Heyward not concerned by mini-slump

Heyward not concerned by mini-slump

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Heyward could have done without the growing pains he experienced while striking out four times in the six plate appearances he compiled during Friday's 13-inning loss to the Giants. But the young Braves outfielder entered this season knowing that every day wouldn't be as memorable as his Opening Day experience.

"Any time you're going into a new situation, it's going to take time to get your rhythm and instincts right," Heyward said before rebounding in impressive fashion by recording three hits, including an opposite-field homer, and drawing a pair of walks during Saturday night's 7-2 win over the Giants.

When Heyward smacked a 451-foot homer with the first swing of his Major League career during Monday's Opening Day victory over the Cubs, he might have fooled some into believing that he was going to avoid the inevitable frustrations that every rookie seemingly encounters.

But while going 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts in the three games that followed, Heyward provided the reminder that he's a 20-year-old prospect who is attempting to quickly learn how to make the necessary adjustments at the Major League level.

Proving that he wasn't fazed by the first rough stretch of his young career, Heyward returned Saturday night and looked at a strike before taking a swing in each of his five plate appearances. The sixth-inning homer that he powered over the left-field wall came on an 0-1 fastball delivered by Giants starter Todd Wellemeyer.

"It's all an adjustment," Heyward said. "That's what is going to happen early in the season. Pitchers are going to have an advantage of a majority of the hitters."

As he prepared for Saturday night's game against the Giants, Heyward sat at his locker listening to music and showing no signs that he's worried about this mini-slump. In fact, when asked about it, he pointed out that he went through a similar adjustment period when he began last year with Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach.

During his first six games with Myrtle Beach, Heyward went 4-for-21 with four strikeouts. His batting average sat at .222 (6-for-27) before he constructed a three-hit performance that propelled him toward putting up the numbers that led many media outlets to tab him the game's top prospect.

"He'll have his struggles like any other 20-year-old who is in the big leagues," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "But he's a very talented kid, and when he's not hitting, he's going to help us in the outfield."