Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who has been sidelined for nearly three weeks due to a broken jaw, had the restrictive band and braces removed from his mouth Monday and is preparing to take batting practice later this week.
Braves general manager Frank Wren provided the update on Heyward's status prior to Monday's victory over the Miami Marlins. The Braves anticipate that Heyward will rejoin the team and take batting practice Friday in Atlanta.
"He's literally and figuratively chomping at the bit," Wren told reporters, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Since suffering the injury, Heyward has publicly stated that he hopes to return in time for the postseason. Wren said the Braves want to send Heyward to the instructional league, which begins next week, to get some at-bats before determining when he can return to the majors.
"I think we were cautiously optimistic he would get back to baseball activity sometime in September," Wren said. "It's progressing as we had hoped. I know it is progressing as he had hoped. I think everybody has the goal for him to get back for October. We'll just continue to see how he progresses."
Wren also said that Heyward will wear a mouth guard when he resumes on-field activities Friday. Heyward also has been cleared to begin eating more solid foods, although Wren said the 24-year-old has been able to maintain his weight with the help of the team's chef.
Heyward, batting .253 with 13 home runs this season, struggled through injuries and prolonged hitting slumps through much of the first several months. After missing 22 games in April and May after undergoing an appendectomy, Heyward 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.
The Braves (86-57) entered play Tuesday with the best record in the majors and a 12-game lead atop the National League East standings.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.