Heyward out of lineup vs. Dodgers with sore back

LOS ANGELES – Right fielder Jason Heyward was out of the Braves lineup for Tuesday’s series opener against the Dodgers with lingering soreness in his lower back. He hoped to be back in the lineup Wednesday.

Heyward said he strained the back while pursuing a foul ball Thursday.

“I felt it grab me,” he said. “I was like, alright, I’ve had this before. But it just never really loosened up in the next couple of days. I tried to go yesterday but it just didn’t happen.”

He finished Thursday’s game and played Friday and Saturday against the Padres, going 2-for-4 with three walks and three runs scored, before sitting out Sunday with what the Braves said at the time was just a day off. The Braves didn’t mention the sore back until he left Monday’s series finale against the Padres after three innings and one at-bat.

“And I’m sure the flight coming across the country didn’t help him at all,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, referring to the 4 ½-hour haul from Atlanta to Los Angeles after Monday’s game. “Another day or two (and he should be back). I talked to him a little bit, he didn’t seem to think it’s anything major.”

Gonzalez wanted to know how he felt before Heyward had arrived at the ballpark Tuesday, and the right fielder told him he was still sore.

“Use today to get some treatment, do a lot of stretching, try to get this thing loosened up,” he said Tuesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. “It’s a little bit better today, a little bit easier to move around. These last couple of days, since Thursday, it’s been pretty tight and locked up on me….

“(The flight) wasn’t the most comfortable thing to sit through. I did get up and walk around as best I could. It didn’t kill me on the flight, but it didn’t help me.”

Heyward said not to rule him out of a possible late-innings role Tuesday and said he hoped to play Wednesday.

If he had to miss a game or two, the Dodgers might not be such a bad team for him to miss: Heyward entered the series with a .165 career average (16-for-97) in 27 games against Los Angeles, with no home runs, six RBIs, 12 walks and 31 strikeouts. He was 11-for-57 (.193) with two RBIs in 15 games at Dodger Stadium.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.