Chipper expects Heyward to return to form

Chipper expects Heyward to return to form

ATLANTA -- When Jason Heyward was turning heads in Spring Training two years ago, former Braves manager Bobby Cox was among the many talking about the unique sound baseballs made when coming off the powerful 20-year-old outfielder's bat.

It is a sound that was seldom heard last year, as Heyward struggled through an injury-plagued season filled with disappointments.

But while hitting with Heyward over the course of the past month, Chipper Jones has gained a sense that this echoing sound could once again become familiar whenever the 22-year-old right fielder is at the plate.

"When the ball jumped off his bat [in 2010], there was a sound unlike you had ever heard," Jones said. "I didn't see that at all last year. It's due to some of things he was doing mechanically. The ball is jumping off his bat now close to the way it was in 2010."

Jones has been very impressed with the instant impact new hitting coach Greg Walker and assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher have had on Heyward. They have focused on fixing some of the mechanical flaws he developed last year while dealing with a sore right shoulder.

One of the multiple mechanical adjustments Heyward has made includes the way the bat sits in his hands. Instead of allowing the bat to lean back like he did to take some pressure off his shoulder last year, he is now keeping the bat more vertical while maintaining a loose comfortable grip.

"He's still making some adjustments, and it's a slow process," Jones said. "As Tiger Woods will tell you, when you go through a swing change, it takes some time."

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