Heyward, McLouth getting closer to returning

Heyward, McLouth getting closer to returning

Heyward, McLouth getting closer to returning
MIAMI -- With Jason Heyward saying that his right shoulder is feeling better, the Braves believe he could begin swinging a bat again within the next few days. Still, it appears it will be at least another week before the 21-year-old right fielder rejoins the Atlanta lineup.

"He's reported that he's feeling a lot better, so that's a good sign," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez has spent the past two weeks with Heyward and his starting center fielder, Nate McLouth, on the disabled list. McLouth has realized steady improvement since straining his left oblique muscle May 22. He has already started hitting off of a tee and is on target to start taking batting practice within the next couple of days.

"He's closer than Heyward," Gonzalez said of his two outfielders, who have been rehabbing since Thursday at the club's Spring Training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Heyward and McLouth both would have been eligible to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday night. Once they prove they are healthy and play in some Minor League rehab games, they both could return at some point next week.

Heyward's right shoulder has proven to be bothersome throughout the season. Two MRI exams have simply shown inflammation. The young outfielder missed six straight starts May 11-16 and then went on the disabled list on May 22, after making just three more starts.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.