Heyward stayed late on the main field at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex after his teammates had left to run sprints and conditioning drills. It is just the latest step in an offseason that may have seen him work harder than any other Braves player to distance himself from the .227 average and 14 homers of 2011.
"I'm feeling great," Heyward told braves.com. "I'm working pretty hard. My confidence is there and I'm healthy. This is probably the best I've felt in a long time."
The 22-year-old enters Spring Training at about 235 pounds, 20 pounds lighter than when the season ended. In addition to his conditioning program, he has also changed his diet.
Furthermore, Heyward has been working to eliminate the bad habits in his swing he developed while attempting to play through shoulder pain last year. New Braves hitting coach Greg Walker has emphasized efficiency in the short time they have worked together.
"There's less effort for me to do what I want to do," Heyward said. "As far as the ball jumping off the bat, I know that's been there and it's good to see there again. It feels free and easy. It doesn't feel like my body is in the way. I'm able to stay behind the ball."
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