Although his spot in the lineup remains uncertain,
"I've told him that," Matheny said. "It came after, Where do you see yourself? That's where we're going to start this. What kind of hitter does he want to be? Where does he feel that he can bring the most to this team and bring out his talents? It's in a spot at least in his own mind and he can get in there and drive the ball.
"Right now I want Jason in a good place," Matheny said. "I want him in a good place in his mind. He's saying all the right things, and the right thing to say is, 'I'll hit wherever they want me to hit.' But I've made it clear to him that we don't need him to be something that he's not."
Heyward, 25, served as Atlanta's leadoff hitter in 2014, hitting .271 with a .384 slugging percentage, .735 OPS, 11 home runs, 26 doubles and 58 RBI in 149 games.
"For me, right now, it’s good to get a sweat, get workouts in, come in on a daily basis, get in our routine and the groove of things so everything naturally jells together before spring training starts," Heyward said Thursday.
Heyward is one of a handful of players in Jupiter who were on the practice field Thursday for an informal Cardinals workout. Among the other St. Louis players reporting to camp early are veterans
Heyward was traded from Atlanta to St. Louis in November. The 25-year-old hit .271 with a .384 slugging percentage, .735 OPS, 11 home runs, 26 doubles and 58 RBI in 149 games. He is entering the final year of his contract after signing a two-year extension in Feb. 2014, is set to make $7.8 million in 2015.
Much of the early speculation about
Even with limited power, Heyward finished last season with the 23rd-highest Fantasy point total among outfielders in standard Head-to-Head leagues. It helped that Heyward stole 20 bases in 24 attempts, walked 67 times and scored 74 runs, and some of that production was aided by his status as the Braves' primary leadoff hitter. One of the least glamorous items on Heyward's 2014 stat line was his 115 singles, but they added to his value and were made possible by the additional plate appearances he received at the top of the order.
By contrast, Heyward ranked 36th among outfielders in Rotisserie value. Given that he is moving to a home park that is tougher on home run hitters than Turner Field was, it might be asking a lot for Heyward to break out as a power hitter in 2015.
At age 25, Heyward could take a step forward and be a top 20 outfielder for all formats, but that could be harder for him to accomplish now that Busch Stadium is his home venue. If Cardinals manager Mike Matheny doesn't see fit to bat Heyward in the leadoff spot, his climb towards Fantasy stardom will only get steeper.
"It was very difficult to trade Jason, but deal was made to help us short-term and long-term," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "This deal also improves us in an area where we are woefully, woefully thin -- our minor-league system."
Heyward had been mentioned in trade rumors leading up to Monday's deal. He is in the final year of his contract after signing a two-year extension in Feb. 2014. The 25-year-old outfielder is coming off a disappointing 2014 season. He hit .271 with a .384 slugging percentage, .735 OPS, 11 home runs, 26 doubles and 58 RBI in 149 games.
The 24-year-old Miller is also coming off a disappointing campaign. The once highly touted pitching prospect went 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 32 appearances (31 starts). While he reached a career high in innings (183), Miller struggled with his command (3.6 BB/9) and saw his strikeout rate drop significantly (6.2 K/9).
"As we look at Shelby, we see that he has a chance to become a front-of-line rotation type of guy," Hart said.
Walden, the former Angels' All-Star closer in 2011, is under team control through 2016. He was 0-2 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and three saves in 58 appearances for Atlanta last season.
Jenkins is a former top-100 prospect whose career has been slowed by a shoulder injury he sustained in 2013. He returned to action in 2014, going 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 13 starts at high Class A.
|CBSSports.com Player Ranking|
|9/28/2014 vs Philadelphia|
|vs Hamels (Career)||32||7||0||.344||.359||.219|
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