Braves' Heyward finally showing his stuff

BY foxsports • June 20, 2012

Jason Heyward has teased the Braves with his talent for more than two years.

He
can hit home runs that are tracked on radar. In the outfield he can
outrun line drives to his left and right, in front of him or over his
head. He can throw out any runner at any base.

He can’t leap tall
buildings in a single bound, but his jumping ability and long arms have
been known to snare balls destined for the seats. And his left-handed
swing is so smooth and perfect that it should be one of the natural
wonders of the world.

Sometimes Heyward manages to harness all his
tools and innate ability and puts together a performance that leaves
our jaws on the floor. Sometimes he makes the game look so easy, you wonder why he can’t do it every
night.

Like this week against the New York Yankees.

The Braves snapped the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak Tuesday because of Heyward’s legs, bat and arm. He tripled and scored the Braves' first run, and also threw out Mark Teixeira at the plate on a throw from right field.

On Wednesday, Heyward belted two home runs.

“He
can change the game in so many different ways. Offensively, defensively
and on the base paths,” Braves manager Fredi
Gonzalez said.

Said Braves pitcher Tim Hudson:

“He shows flashes of greatness every now and again. Defensively, he’s been
awesome. He covers a lot of ground out there. He’s got a great arm and
he’s been coming up with a lot of big hits for us lately.”

Heyward’s
all-around strong game is typical of his performance this month. Forget
June swoon, it’s a June boon. Heyward has raised his average from .233 at the end of May to .278. He’s added four home runs and 11 RBI in June and is on pace to finish this season
with more than 20 home runs and 20 steals.

“About the last five
days to a week, he’s probably swung the bat as well as anybody in the
lineup,” Chipper Jones said. “He’s been a tough out against lefties, hanging in
there. He’s starting to hit the ball the other way into the gaps. We all
know what kind of talent he has. He’s a five-tool player if healthy.
That’s been the main thing thus far.”

Heyward missed 34 games last
year with a shoulder injury that caused him to pick up bad habits and
played havoc with his swing. He worked on his mechanics and sweated off
about 20 pounds in the offseason to develop the promise he displayed in
his fine rookie season of 2010.

He got off to a slow start but has
come on strong this month. In fact, ever since Nationals rookie Bryce
Harper hustled to second base when Heyward casually fielded what looked
like a routine single to right last month, Heyward has played well,
excelling in every facet of the game.

He’s been one of this
month’s bright spots for the Braves, who have been slumping but are only four games behind the Nationals in the NL East.

“All I can do is show up every day, try to go out there and compete, have some fun and try to contribute,” Heyward said.

The Braves will take that. Especially if it leads to more wins.


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