NEW YORK — Citi Field has been a danger zone for the Atlanta Braves this summer.
Jason Heyward sustained a broken right jaw when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday, becoming the second key member of the NL East leaders to go down with a scary injury at the New York Mets’ ballpark. Veteran pitcher Tim Hudson broke his ankle last month on a gruesome play at first base, ending his season.
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“It’s just a fluke thing that it’s happened twice here,” Chris Johnson said after his three-run homer in the 10th inning sent Atlanta to a 4-1 victory.
Heyward went down in a heap during a frightening scene in the sixth. With blood in his mouth, he was examined by Mets doctors and taken to a hospital for X-rays.
He was diagnosed with two fractures in his jaw and will undergo surgery Thursday in Atlanta. The team said it will have an estimated timetable for his return after the operation.
Heyward’s grandparents were at Citi Field and accompanied him to the hospital, along with trainer Jeff Porter. Heyward and Porter stayed behind in New York as the Braves traveled to St. Louis for a four-game series that begins Thursday night.
Heyward was expected to fly to Atlanta on Wednesday night.
“He never lost consciousness,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Right before he went to the hospital he popped his head into the clubhouse to say goodbye to some of the guys.
“It’s not the ballpark, it’s just a matter of freak stuff happening. It can happen anywhere.”
Heyward was struck by a 90 mph fastball from Jonathon Niese in the sixth. The impact made a loud noise, and the crowd groaned as Heyward crumpled to the ground.
He stayed down on his back for about three minutes before getting helped to his feet. Heyward walked slowly off the field under his own power, escorted by a trainer, and was replaced by Jordan Schafer.
Visibly concerned, Niese tapped himself with his glove as Heyward walked off, and Heyward appeared to acknowledge him.
“I wanted to elevate a fastball but it just kind of ran in on him. Obviously no intent,” Niese said. “I felt horrible. This game can be pretty dangerous.”
Perhaps a bit shaken, Niese then gave up singles to Simmons and Freeman in a three-pitch span as Atlanta tied it at 1.
On a tear at the plate since moving into the leadoff spot last month, Heyward is batting .253 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs. The right fielder won a Gold Glove last season and was an All-Star as a rookie in 2010.
“It was tough. It caught him in a bad spot. We’ll just have to wait and hear how he is,” Wood said.
NOTES: Gonzalez said infielder Elliot Johnson, released Tuesday by Kansas City, will join the Braves in St. Louis. “We’re obviously going to be making some roster moves,” the manager said. … Braves OF Justin Upton missed the series with a strain in his upper back. He said he thinks he will be ready for the St. Louis series.
Significant injuries are nothing new to this Atlanta roster: starting pitcher Tim Hudson, top relievers Jonny
Venters, Eric O’Flaherty and Christhian Martinez and infielders Ramiro
Pena and Tyler Pastornicky have each been diagnosed with season-ending injuries.