After moving to the lead-off spot, Heyward helped the Braves to a 19-4 record, while maintaining a .341 batting average. As a result, his 4-6 week recovery time is especially painful to a Braves team missing its offensive spark in big games.
While Jordan Schafer has put up solid numbers in the lead-off position, he is nowhere close to the electric presence Heyward was at the top of the Braves' lineup.
Heyward was hit by a Jon Niese fastball in a day game on August 21st against the New York Mets, and has not seen any live action since, until his most recent session.
Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez and hitting coach Greg walker were both impressed at Heyward's ability to make consistent contact after being out for an extended period of time.
While many are concerned with Heyward's ability to see and read live pitching, his concern lies more with the conditioning of his legs. In an interview with Mark Bowman he said the following:
"Being in the outfield is the biggest thing," Heyward said. "That is the position where you need to have your legs under you. The way I play the game, I'm going to run into the wall sometimes. I'm going to lay out to try to make a play. I'm going to run to try to take an extra base. I need to be able to do those things. That is where I help this team. But for it to come, it's going to come playing in baseball games for it to fully come back."
With Heyward returning as soon as Monday, Braves fans cannot wait for the return of their star right-fielder, and most productive lead-off man of the season.
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