ATLANTA (AP) — Jason Heyward is hoping to make it back in time to play for the Atlanta Braves in the postseason, while ailing starting pitcher Brandon Beachy is shooting for the end of September.
Heyward joined the team Tuesday for the first time since the slugger was beaned by Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese last Wednesday, breaking the right side of his jaw with a 90-mph fastball.
Heyward, who underwent surgery and had two metal plates inserted, hopes to return for the playoffs. Atlanta had baseball's best record before Tuesday night's game against Cleveland.
"I don't have a timetable for you," Heyward said. "I don't know if it's going to be sooner. I don't know if it's going to be later. I don't know how long it's going to take to heal. But I know as soon as possible I'd like to be playing baseball."
The slugger, who missed 22 games in April and May after undergoing an appendectomy, became Atlanta's leadoff hitter on July 27. Over his next 22 games, Heyward hit .349 with five homers, 15 RBIs and 23 runs scored.
Heyward's jaw seemed only slightly swollen as he spoke with reporters. He will re-evaluated by a specialist on Thursday, but the outfielder has no plans to rush his comeback.
He also will consider wearing a guard on his batting helmet to protect the right side of his face.
"I have to be smart and understand that it's a broken jaw," Heyward said. "It's not just a broken finger or anything like that. So if I do get hit again, if I don't let it heal, that's my mistake. But you have to be smart about it. I want to start the timetable of playing again as soon as possible. I'll just have to wait and see what the doctor says."
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