With Brian McCann likely out for the first two weeks of the season, Jason Heyward will be the longest tenured position player for the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day. Particularly with Chipper Jones' retirement and the fact that Martin Prado, Eric Hinske and David Ross are no longer in Atlanta, that means Heyward may be expected to pick up some of that slack.
With McCann hopefully not taking too long to return and veteran pitcher Tim Hudson already serving in a leadership position, manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't concerned.
"That will take care of itself," Gonzalez said on braves.com. "I think some guys get mistaken that a leader is Ray Lewis, the guy who comes out of the tunnel, does his dance and pumps up the guys. In baseball, you can't do that 162 times. It's showing up and playing the game the way we want them to play the game."
But at scant 23-years-old, coming off a career year and exhibiting some of the most hustle on the team, Heyward could provide that spark on the offensive side that will get the Braves lining up behind him, and it hasn't been lost on Braves president John Schuerholz.
"Last year, [Heyward] showed what he was made of with his determination, his professionalism and his work ethic," Schuerholz said. "By the way, that hasn't decreased at all. If anything, what we've witnessed is an increase in this guy's intensity and determination to be good and a productive player for the Braves."
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