Jason Heyward Not Taking Return To Dodgers ‘For Granted’

Jason Heyward returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers active roster on Friday, following a long layoff due to a back injury that kept him on the shelf.

Having not appeared in a game since March 30 against the St. Louis Cardinals, Heyward’s first action was a huge weight off his shoulders. In his fourth at-bat of the night, he deposited a second-pitch slider into the right field seats for a two-run homer.

“Awesome to be back out there, I never take that for granted, playing the game,” Heyward said. “But it’s huge to get an at-bat like that, add on, keep some pressure off of us. That’s a big part of your season, if you can add on in moments like that. Definitely didn’t take that at-bat for granted.”

His eighth inning home run was his first of the season, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 7-3, and provided enough of a cushion to put the game in a comfortable spot.

In his rehab stint before returning, Heyward logged just seven plate appearances with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He dispelled any notion that he didn’t have enough buildup, mentioning that the speed of Major League Baseball will push him into gear.

“I don’t think there’s such thing as ready or not,” Heyward added. “I think it’s a mental thing. You can go have an amazing rehab stint and then come back and you still have to adjust. It’s still a different game, there’s still different information.

“No disrespect to anyone that’s not here, but guys here, they’re the best at what they do. They know how to execute, there’s mistakes there, but still, I just knew had to keep making adjustments. I’m going to have to make adjustments in the next AB, the next AB, and the next AB.

“But 15 years of experience will help you do that.”

Heyward’s primary use with the Dodgers is his veteran bat and proven ability to punish right-handed pitching. He’ll continue to get the majority of opportunities in those matchups, while playing a solid outfield.

Jason Heyward was ‘antsy’ to return

Because Heyward missed 40 games on the injured list, that much time away from the team can be a tough thing to return from.

“I think the road back was hard for him, to not be able to participate,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He’s such a team guy and all about his teammates. He was doing what he could to kind of keep morale up, but he was getting very antsy not playing.

“Certainly, a two-game rehab is not extensive, given the time he was off. But Jason said ‘I just want to get back in this environment, I think this will make me better, it’ll kind of speed up the process of getting back into the flow of things.’ And tonight he came up with a big hit. It’s good to get him back.”

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