Jason Heyward took a major step -- and eight big swings -- toward getting back to Atlanta.
"It felt good to be back out there. It felt weird to be back out there," said Heyward following his first rehab game with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves on Thursday afternoon at Coolray Field. "Literally sitting down for two weeks is not the ideal thing to do during the season, but I'm just glad to get the process started and get some at-bats, get around baseball again, be involved in the game."
Wearing No. 15, Heyward went 0-for-5 with a walk and three strikeouts while batting second and serving as designated hitter in the Gwinnett's series finale against the Pawtucket Red Sox, a rare 10:35 a.m. start for Belk Education Day.
But the results on this day were secondary.
Of primary importance for Heyward was getting back on his feet and getting his feet inside a batter's box for the first time since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on April 22 in Colorado. He was placed on the disabled list the next day.
Thursday continued a progression of getting healthy that started last week with walking, then light running, then taking dry swings and hitting off a tee in the batting cage over the weekend, then taking live batting practice with Gwinnett on Wednesday, and now a rehab game Thursday.
Read more: Braves' Jason Heyward plays in Minor League rehab game | MLB.com: News