ATLANTA -- Jason Heyward's patience will continue to be tested as he spends at least a couple of more weeks sidelined with a fractured jaw. But the Braves outfielder gained some encouragement when he was cleared to begin playing catch and hitting off a tee on Tuesday.
Heyward was back in uniform as he played catch with his teammates as they prepared to take batting practice before Tuesday night's game against the Mets. This marked the first time he participated in on-field baseball activities since his jaw was fractured by Mets left-handed pitcher Jon Niese's 90-mph fastball on Aug. 21.
"It felt good for me, my teammates and my coaches," Heyward said. "I was excited to get the process started. It happened sooner than I would have expected."
The past two weeks have tested the patience of Heyward, who has been able to consume some solid foods that are chopped up and placed in liquids. The 24-year-old outfielder playfully said he cried when he was permitted to eat Chick-fil-A on Monday.
As Heyward walked through the clubhouse Tuesday, he was wearing a batting helmet that had a protective faceguard attached to it. He has said that he would likely at least attempt to get used to wearing this faceguard over the next couple of weeks.
While the Braves are not providing a definitive timetable for Heyward's return, it still appears they are hopeful that he will return during the latter portion of this month, in time to play at least a handful of games leading into the postseason.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less