Center fielder Jason Heyward left the Cubs’ 7-3 loss to the Cardinals at Wrigley Field on Sunday, after experiencing lightheadedness and shortness of breath. The Cubs sent him to the hospital for further tests and “for precautionary reasons,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
Cameron Maybin replaced Heyward in right field in the fifth inning. But Heyward’s symptoms began before that. According to Ross, Heyward said he felt a little lightheaded after his first at-bat.
“He’s not a guy that you ever have concerns about,” Ross said. “So, when he says he’s having trouble breathing and is lightheaded, I just want to make sure everything’s alright.”
Ross said after the game that he didn’t have further details on what tests Heyward is undergoing or when he is expected to return.
“He’s a big loss, not only with how well he’s playing but a leader in the dugout too,” Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “So, we’re all concerned. I wish we knew more.”
Entering play Sunday, Heyward led the Cubs in on base percentage (.421). He was one of just two Cubs batting over .300. The other was Ian Happ.
That’s even after Heyward started the season with a .189 batting average through the first 11 games.
“You’ve got guys who fluctuate a little bit – and you’ll have that on any team – where they’re in better moods when they hit better or something like that,” Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “But I think he’s kind of this steady rock always. … Every day shows up the same guy, whether he’s hitting or not. He works hard, so when you’re around him you’re working a little harder because you know he is too.”
The Cubs could use that kind of player and leader at this juncture in the season, perhaps more than ever. The team (23-18) still sits in first place in the NL Central, but the Cardinals (17-15) are gaining on them. The division rivals are scheduled to play again Monday, their last regular season meeting.
If the Cardinals win, they’ll move to just 0.5 games back of the Cubs.
“We’re hoping that it’s not serious with what he’s got going on,” Kipnis said of Heyward, “and he’s back tomorrow.”