Jason Heyward underwent surgery Thursday to repair the fractured jaw he suffered when he was hit by a Jon Niese fastball during Wednesday's win over the Mets.
Heyward had two metal plates inserted into his jaw during the surgical procedure performed by Dr.
Glen Maron in Atlanta. One plate was inserted on the right side of his face and another around his chin, where a second fracture occurred.
It appears Heyward will need 4-6 weeks to recover, which would sideline him until at least the latter portion of September. The Braves have not released a definitive timetable. But the club remains hopeful the valuable 24-year-old outfielder will be available in late September or at least once the postseason arrives.
Gonzalez was encouraged that Heyward did not have his jaw wired shut. This could help the 6-foot-5, 240-pound right fielder as he attempts to maintain his strength with proper nutrition.
Time will tell how long it will take Heyward to physically and mentally recover from this unfortunate incident that led him to walk off the field spitting blood while being supported by Atlanta head trainer Jeff Porter.
Once Heyward is cleared to begin participating in on-field activities again, he will have to get used to seeing live pitching again while participating in Instructional League games or simulated games completed by members of Atlanta's pitching staff who need work in late September.
In the meantime, the Braves will have to attempt to preserve their comfortable National League East lead without the services of Heyward, who had hit .345 with a .418 on-base percentage in the 23 games he played after moving to the leadoff role on July 27.
To account for Heyward's absence, Gonzalez will shift Justin Upton from left field to right field. The manager plans to mix and match the players that fill the other two outfield spots. It appears Jordan Schafer will continue to platoon with B.J. Upton in center field. Evan Gattis will likely get regular playing time in left field, and be spelled by Joey Terdoslavich when the opposing team is starting a tough right-handed pitcher.
Schafer will handle the leadoff duties when the Braves are opposing a right-handed starting pitcher. Gonzalez said Andrelton Simmons will likely be at the top of his lineup when his club opposes a left-handed starting pitcher.
While Schafer has compiled a .400 on-base percentage in 21 games as the leadoff hitter, Simmons compiled a .259 mark in the 62 games he has manned the lineup's top spot. Simmons' struggles influenced the decision to move Heyward to the leadoff role.
Schafer, who hit lead-off Thursday night at St. Louis, played center field and went 0-for-5. Left fielder Evan Gattis went 0-for-4, while right fielder Justin Upton was 1-for-3 including a two-run homer. The Cardinals beat the Braves, 6-2
---- Source: MLB.com
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt