Outfielder to be evaluated Thursday, still no timetable for return to activites
ATLANTA -- Jason Heyward's psyche gained some therapeutic relief when he arrived at Turner Field on Tuesday afternoon to be with his Braves teammates for the first time since he fractured his jaw and learned that he will likely be sidelined until the latter portion of September.
"Sitting at home and watching them play is no fun," Heyward said. "I can't celebrate. I can't be there through a tough inning. I think [my teammates and coaches] know how much I want to be there. They know how much I care, and how much I want to be there for support, and it's good to be home, good to see them home again."
Heyward plans to be with his teammates as much as possible over the next few weeks as he attempts to recover from the physical and mental pain he has felt since sustaining the fracture when he was hit by a fastball from Mets left-hander Jon Niese last Wednesday at Citi Field.
"I just feel blessed to be able to walk away," Heyward said while displaying the rubber bands that are helping to keep his surgically repaired jaw in place.
Dr. Glen Maron, who inserted two metal plates during last week's surgery, will evaluate Heyward again on Thursday. Maron has given the Braves outfielder an indication that he could be cleared to begin running and completing other conditioning drills this week.
Once Heyward gets through this stage of the recovery process and the team's medical staff is confident his jaw is secure enough, he will be cleared to resume baseball activities. But a definitive timetable has not been set for Heyward's rehab or return.
Heyward's only goal is to be playing during the postseason. The optimal scenario would allow him to get some at-bats in instructional league games a few weeks from now and then possibly return to Atlanta's lineup before the regular season concludes.
"I don't have a timetable for you," Heyward said. "I don't know if it's going to be sooner. I don't know if it's going to be later. I don't know how long it's going to take to heal. But I know as soon as possible, I'd like to be playing baseball."
Heyward has lost approximately five pounds while not being able to eat solid foods over the past six days. His diet has primarily consisted of smoothies, ice cream, lobster bisque and yogurt.
"It's tough," Heyward said. "You have to be disciplined, but I would have to say wanting to play baseball again and wanting to play as soon as possible helps me keep in line."
Heyward would be open to the possibility of wearing a guard on his batting helmet once he returns. But he said this possibility has not yet been discussed.
"I have to be smart and understand that it's a broken jaw," Heyward said. "It's not just a broken finger or anything like that. So if I do get hit again, if I don't let it heal, that's my mistake. But you have to be smart about it. I want to start the timetable of playing again as soon as possible. I'll just have to wait and see what the doctor says."