ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Cardinals fans could get the chance to boo Jason Heyward when he steps into the batter’s box during this three-game rivalry series. But for now, the $184 million Cubs outfielder simply brought the lineup card out to home plate before Monday night’s game at Busch Stadium.
Heyward is pushing to return as soon as possible, taking swings in the cage and going through batting practice, meaning the Cubs might have accurately projected his three-to-five-days timeline to recover from that scary-looking crash into AT&T Park’s right-center field wall.
“If it was up to me, I’d be playing right now,” Heyward said. “But obviously you got to go through stuff and test it out and things like that just to make sure.
“So we’ll see what (the training staff says). And we’ll see how I feel at the end of the day.”
Heyward said he’s only feeling a dull pain on his right side – and no headaches – after Friday’s highlight-reel catch stole an extra-base hit away from San Francisco Giants leadoff guy Denard Span. The momentum carried Heyward headfirst into the wall, somehow escaping a head injury or serious wrist damage.
“I feel like we dodged a bullet,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We brought in Dexter (Fowler so) we have some depth, and then we lost (Kyle) Schwarber. But at some point, you lose two corner outfielders and it starts to eat into that a little bit.
“All of our guys play hard out there. And because of that, we’re going to have some moments like that.”
Heyward won his third Gold Glove last year, putting up a 6.5 WAR for a 100-win Cardinals team and offending the St. Louis fan base by choosing to sign with the Cubs as a free agent and citing their young core as a primary reason.
Even with his offensive struggles (.611 OPS), it would have been difficult for the Cubs to replace Heyward’s all-around contributions on a long-term basis.
The Cubs didn’t see Shane Victorino as an answer and – without an available spot on the big-league roster – released the Triple-A Iowa outfielder. A calf injury prevented Victorino from getting a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but the two-time All-Star/World Series champion is said to be ready for another opportunity in a different organization.