Jason Heyward has been a pleasant surprise for the Los Angeles Dodgers after signing a Minor League contract prior to the start of the season and making the Opening Day roster.
The 33-year-old is in the midst of a resurgent year that has pushed him into nearly every day starts against right-handed pitching, batting .251/.346/.454 while playing solid defense. Heyward added another hit on Sunday against the New York Mets, but he ended up leaving the game early due to a neck injury.
There was concern Heyward may have suffered a concussion as well, which is something he’s previously dealt with, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it just appears to be a stiff neck that will have him day-to-day, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“It was kind of like a stinger,” Robert said. “I think in 2021, he had a little concussion scare. So that’s why we are sensitive to that. I think the neck started to stiffen up a little bit. I think right now it’s day to day.”
Heyward worked extensively this past offseason to rework his swing, and the results are showing so far with eight home runs, seven more than he hit last season and tying his 2021 total.
Roberts previously also credited Heyward, along with David Peralta, for providing length to the Dodgers lineup that could have been considered too top-heavy without enough depth.
“I think for me, it starts with David and Jason,” Roberts recently said. “Professional hitters just taking really good at-bats.
“So if you look at those guys, they’ve kind of added some length to our lineup. Those guys obviously had nice nights to drive in some runs, picked us up big. For me, it’s just the quality of at-bat and they’re very dependable players.”
Heyward’s quality of contact has declined with more extensive playing time and additional metrics suggest he’s had some quality luck, but at the same time, the veteran continues to put up positive results.
As for his work in the outfield, Heyward ranks in the 89th percentile of outs above average and arm strength, which is fortunate for the Dodgers as their best defensive outfielder in Mookie Betts has been playing the middle infield a lot.
What will Dodgers do if Jason Heyward misses extended time?
Heyward seemingly made a quick recovery as he is in the Dodgers lineup for the series opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
However, if Heyward’s injury ends up being more serious than the Dodgers believe at this time, they could recall Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch or Jonny DeLuca from the Minor Leagues. However, it would also likely require Betts to spend more time in the outfield once again.
Still, it doesn’t seem like there is anything major to worry about regarding Heyward at this time.
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