At 33 years old and coming off two down seasons, 12-year veteran Jason Heyward believes that he can still be an impactful player at the Major League level.
And with a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training, the Los Angeles Dodgers have given the former World Series champion just that opportunity to revitalize his big league longevity.
Heyward quickly went to work with hitting coaches after signing and is determined to take every measure necessary in effort to make the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster for 2023, per Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:
“I want to be here for opening day, and helping this team win,” he said. “So [I’ve] just been putting my best foot forward, not wasting the opportunity.”
Although the Dodgers have options in the outfield, if Heyward could post a decent enough spring, perhaps he could be penciled into the Opening Day lineup on March 30 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 2010 All-Star and Rookie of the Year finalist, who joined L.A. after a seven-year stint with the Chicago Cubs, is confident the Dodgers are capable of helping him get back to being consistently productive at the plate.
Heyward had a strong showing during the shortened 2020 season, but the following year saw just a .214 batting average to go along with a .627 on-base plus slugging percentage over 104 games. While battling multiple injuries, Heyward played in only 48 games last season and had a lowly .555 OPS.
Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward reunite
By signing with the Dodgers, Heyward reunited with longtime Atlanta Braves teammate Freddie Freeman.
Freeman, who has already voiced his excitement in Heyward’s signing with the Dodgers, spent four years as his teammate from 2010-2014 with Atlanta.
Although never making it past the National League Divisional Series as teammates on two trips to the playoffs, Heyward did have arguably his best season with the Braves in 2012.
Blasting a career-high 27 home runs and a .269 batting average, Heyward posted an impressive .814 OPS with 30 doubles. His 82 RBI that season also represent a career-best.
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