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Posted: 7:59 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013

Heyward leaves with strained neck muscle - updated

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Jason Heyward strains neck muscle
Alex Brandon / AP
Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, left, and trainer Jeff Porter look over Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Aug. 6, 2013, in Washington. Heyward continued his at bat, but left the game afterwards. He is day-to-day.

By Carroll Rogers

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON —

Jason Heyward left Tuesday’s game against the Nationals in the first inning with a muscle strain in his neck.

Heyward said he felt pain up the back of his neck to the top of his head as he backed away from the plate, after fouling off the second pitch of the night from left-hander Gio Gonzalez.

Heyward said he was examined by a doctor, who characterized it as a spasm, and he was feeling better by the end of the game. The Braves list Heyward as day to day. Heyward said he had a slight headache but was hoping he could talk his way back into the lineup on Wednesday.

“I feel better than I did when it happened, just going to see how I feel tomorrow,” Heyward said. “I don’t know if they’re going to let me, but I want to play tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”

Heyward remained in the game long enough to pop out to shortstop on the next pitch. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez replaced him in the field in the bottom of the first inning, inserting Evan Gattis in left field and moving Justin Upton to right.

“Everything was normal until I backed away from the plate,” Heyward said. “And the back of my head started pounding and it started running up to the top of my head. I tried to shake it off.”

Heyward has been a catalyst in the Braves 12-game winning streak, batting .333 (12-for-36) in 10 games since Gonzalez moved him up to the leadoff spot.

Heyward missed six games after straining his hamstring on July 11, four days before the all-Star break.

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