Jason Heyward isn't slumping, he's hurting.
The Braves' standout rookie outfielder admitted Saturday that he's been hampered by a sore left thumb that makes him unable to grip the bat properly. That explains the apparent decrease in bat speed as his offensive production has plummeted in recent weeks.
"It’s definitely bruised, it’s swollen, and it is also jammed," Heyward told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It affects consistency in the swing. Everything else around the swing, the load, the trigger, the timing, staying on the ball, you have to have that."
Heyward, 20, is second among outfielders in voting for the National League All-Star team. He is going to sit out at least two games and will see a hand specialist.
Heyward was batting .301 on May 30 and has dropped 50 points since. In that time he has batted .172 and seen his power all but disappear (.232 slugging percentage, one homer and three doubles).
"I'm going to try to do something to get it better," he said. "This is not an excuse. This is what we have to work with. I don’t have a problem going out and playing every day, but this is for the team. Let’s get it better so I can get back to helping the team.”
-- David Andriesen
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