Less than three weeks after suffering a broken jaw when he was hit in the face by a 90 mph fastball, Braves outfielder Jason Heyward had the restrictive braces and bands removed from his mouth Monday and is preparing to begin taking batting practice when the Braves return home on Friday.
Braves general manager Frank Wren said Heyward was fitted for a mouth guard that he’ll wear during baseball activities, which for the last week have included taking some swings off a tee and doing some conditioning.
Wren said the two plates Heyward had surgically-inserted to stabilize the two fractures in his jaw will remain permanently.
Now Heyward is able to eat regularly, though Wren said he’s done a good job of maintaining his weight, despite his limitations, with some help from the Braves chef.
The Braves had thought there was a chance Heyward would join the team in Miami to continue his workouts, but Monday’s procedure to remove the bands required anesthesia, leaving Heyward groggy Monday night, so they didn’t see a need for the travel. He’ll re-join the team Friday when the Braves open a weekend series against the Padres.
“He’s literally and figuratively chomping at the bit,” Wren said.
Ideally, Heyward gets some at-bats at some point during instructional league, which begins next Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and then returns for some work at the major league level over the final week of September. But Wren said the Braves won’t have an idea of the timetable for another week.
“I think we were cautiously optimistic that he would get back to baseball activity sometime in September,” Wren said. “It’s progressing as we hoped, and I know progressing as he hoped, because I think everybody has the goal for him - and I know he does - to try to get back for October. So we’ll just continue to see how it progresses.”
The Braves haven’t been able to acquire the ace they might have wanted for the top of their rotation, but they secured the depth they needed Monday with the signing of free agent right-hander Gavin Floyd.
One week after the Braves were eliminated by the Dodgers in a four-game division series, Braves general manager Frank Wren met with the team’s beat writers and discussed the 2013 season and the team’s needs going into the offseason.