Braves hope Jason Heyward can avoid disabled list

AP Sports WriterJuly 12, 2013 

ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said Friday his strained right hamstring feels better and he hopes to avoid the disabled list.

Heyward left Thursday night's game against the Reds after hurting the hamstring while running the bases.

Reed Johnson is starting for Heyward in right field on Friday night. Heyward might be held out through the weekend, but he says there is improvement.

"I feel better today than I did last night," Heyward said. "There is more flexibility in my hamstring and less pain. It's not as uncomfortable but there still is pain, it's still really sore."

Heyward said the Braves are taking a "day to day" approach to the injury.

"I've got to do what's best for the rest of the season, what's best for me, until they can get me back on the field healthy," he said.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the All-Star break could help Heyward avoid the 15-day disabled list "if he keeps getting better." If Heyward is held out this weekend, he would have a full week off before the Braves resume play after the break at the Chicago White Sox on July 19.

"Going into it, I would say the smarter thing to do would probably be not play," Heyward said of the weekend games against the Reds.

"As of now, the best thing to do would be cautious. Knowing these four days off are coming with the All-Star break, it would be good to get this time to rest and come back and not worry about further hurting myself and not coming back too soon."

Gonzalez said Heyward's improvement is a good sign it is not a "full-blown" hamstring injury.

Gonzalez said the Braves hope catcher-outfielder Evan Gattis can return from his right oblique injury after the All-Star break. Gattis was schedule to begin a three-game rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday.

Gattis took batting practice with the Braves Wednesday and Thursday and impressed Gonzalez.

"From what I've seen these last two days, the weekend will be enough," Gonzalez said.

"If everything goes well, he should join the club on Friday (in Chicago)."

Right-hander Brandon Beachy also is moving closer to his return. Beachy, recovering from right elbow ligament-replacement surgery in June, 2012, is scheduled to pitch for Gwinnett on Sunday.

Beachy was close to returning to the Braves when he experienced discomfort in the elbow and was pulled off his rehabilitation schedule on June 14.

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