Heyward plays right field, hits double in rehab start
Expected to continue Minor League stint after first outfield action
MOOSIC, Pa. -- After a rough start to his rehab stint with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, Jason Heyward seems to have found his swing. While it may be early, one cannot deny the swings he's put together, especially the past two nights against the Yankees' top affiliate.
On Monday, Heyward played the field for the first time since his emergency appendectomy on April 23. He batted second, and started in right field for Gwinnett. The 6:35 p.m. ET start presented a challenge, as it was Heyward's first "twilight" game since his surgery nearly three weeks ago.
His night did not get off to a good start. Facing left-handed Yankees prospect Nik Turley, who was making his Triple-A debut, Heyward struck out looking and looked uncomfortable at the plate. Turley later struck out Joey Terdoslavich to end the frame, but Heyward and the Braves were able to string together a better inning in the third.
With Jose Yepez at second base, Heyward hammered a Turley fastball to dead center field, where a retreating Melky Mesa was unable to make the catch as the ball hopped off the wall. The play easily scored Yepez from second base, and gave Gwinnett the early lead. It was Heyward's fourth RBI against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, spanning just 12 innings of play.
It was a cold and rainy night at PNC Field, and Heyward drew a walk off Turley in the fifth inning. He was taken out of the game by Gwinnett manager Randy Ready in favor of a pinch-runner.
After starting his rehab assignment 0-8 with six strikeouts, Heyward came around in the final two games against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He drove in three runs with a pair of hits on Sunday afternoon, and followed that performance with his double and RBI on Monday.
With Monday being his first defensive action since his surgery, Heyward will likely play a couple of more Minor League games before returning to the Braves.
Andrew Kappes is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.