Heyward will relax, trust himself at plate

Heyward will relax, trust himself at plate

MIAMI -- When Jason Heyward went to the batting cage after Monday night's win over the Marlins, he was not attempting to vent or release frustration. The Braves right fielder was simply attempting to get a better feel for the comfort he had started to gain during the game.

"It was not an angry cage or a venting round of work," Heyward said. "It was just more of, if we're that close, let's go see and feel if we can get it right. I came out feeling better than I have in a long time."

That is certainly encouraging news to the Braves, who have seen Heyward record just two hits, a home run and a single, in his first 24 at-bats this season.

Heyward was given a chance to rest and clear his head while Reed Johnson replaced him as the starting right fielder in Tuesday night's game against the Marlins. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the decision had more to do with the need to get Johnson some at-bats than to sit Heyward.

"I think [Heyward] is right there," Gonzalez said. "I know he spent some time with [hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher] last night after the game was over, and I think they got it worked out."

Mechanically, Heyward has been attempting to adjust his hands to create some more whip with his powerful left-handed swing. But the 23-year-old outfielder believes his struggles have been a product of trying to do too much.

"I've just been really tense and trying to too much, trying to be too perfect," Heyward said. "That's not how you hit. You go up there relaxed. You have to go up there free and easy and trust yourself."

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