ATLANTA -- Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell will return Friday after serving the two-week suspension Major League Baseball levied in response to his reaction to heckling fans before an April 23 game in San Francisco.
Along with the suspension, MLB levied an unspecified fine and required McDowell to undergo sensitivity training. He has also taken time recently to apologize to Justin Quinn, the man who alleged that McDowell made homophobic gestures and statements to three other men and also threatened him during batting practice.
"Roger has started the MLB-mandated sensitivity training and he's in the process of going through that now," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "This is an effort to help him understand what happened in San Francisco and help him going forward. He also has reached out to the family and apologized to them directly. He's in the process of going through the sensitivity training now and is looking forward to returning to join the team."
Reacting to a group of young men who were heckling backup catcher David Ross down the left-field line, McDowell made comments and sexual gestures. With his twin nine-year-old daughters in attendance, Quinn exchanged words with McDowell.
Quinn claimed McDowell threatened him by holding a fungo bat in his hand and asking "How much are your teeth worth?"
Quinn's claim that McDowell said children shouldn't be at the ballpark has been disputed by multiple fans who were in attendance. They said he simply said children shouldn't be in an area where fans were using some of the language that was being used in that section down the left-field line at AT&T Park that afternoon.
Braves Minor League pitching coordinator Dave Wallace has served as the Braves' pitching coach since McDowell's suspension began on April 29.
Heyward to have MRI Thursday on shoulder
ATLANTA -- Jason Heyward was encouraged when he awoke Wednesday and no longer felt numbness in his right hand and forearm. But until he undergoes an MRI exam Thursday, Heyward can only guess what has caused him to spend the past two months battling right shoulder discomfort.
"It feels like it's loose, like there is space in there when I move it around," Heyward said. "There's a lot of discomfort."
Heyward began feeling the shoulder discomfort during the final two weeks of Spring Training. The Braves' 21-year-old right fielder played through the pain. But he was removed from Tuesday night's game after he took the field in the seventh inning and began feeling numbness in his hand.
"We knew about it," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It wasn't anything that would keep him out of the lineup or anything. But yesterday one of the swings tweaked it a little more. Now it flared up a little bit. So we'll let it settle down a little bit."
Once their medical staff reviews Heyward's MRI results, the Braves will have a better idea about whether their young outfielder will need to miss more than just a few days.
Heyward doesn't think simply resting for a couple of days will prove to be the remedy. But he seemed to suggest rest combined with other therapy, such as a cortisone shot, might allow him to begin playing in a pain-free manner again.
"A couple days of rest is probably not going to be it," Heyward said. "Something may need to be done. I don't know what. I might need to sit and let it rest. But I don't think that will be it.
"It depends on what the doctors want to do and what they have up their sleeves. It might be a couple days with something else."
When Heyward began feeling discomfort in Spring Training he felt some relief after being treated with a dose pack. His shoulder continued to bother him through the early weeks of the season. But while hitting .400 (14-for-35) during an eight-game stretch that began April 22, he gained the sense that he could continue playing through the pain.
When Heyward recorded three hits and struck out five times in 31 at-bats in the nine-game stretch leading up to the impressive eight-game stretch, he wasn't dealing with the amount of discomfort that has plagued him since, as he has hit .071 and struck out 13 times in his past 28 at-bats.
"I'm feeling good about whatever I need to get done," Heyward said. "I have plenty of strength. I just don't know what is going on. We just need to figure that out."
Moylan to have back surgery next week
ATLANTA -- When Peter Moylan underwent two previous back surgeries, he was an insurance agent who enjoyed the opportunity to play baseball in industrial leagues in Australia. Nearly a decade later, he is approaching another back surgery with the hope that he can return in time to help the Braves make a push toward the postseason.
When Moylan visited with noted spinal surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Monday, it was confirmed that he will need to undergo surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back. The encouraging news came when he was told once again that he might begin pitching again within the next two to three months.
"I wish he would have said 'No you don't need surgery, there's a miracle cure I have for you, just take this pill and you'll be back in a week,'" Moylan said. "But he said exactly what everyone else is saying."
After getting multiple opinions, Moylan chose to be evaluated by Watkins, who essentially confirmed that surgery was unavoidable. He will perform the surgical procedure in Los Angeles early next week.
"I wanted to get as many opinions as I could and I wanted to go to the best," Moylan said. "I believe Watkins is the best. It's the same as when guys get their elbows done, they go to see [Dr. James] Andrews. I feel the same way about my back."
When Moylan went on the disabled list in mid-April, he was hopeful that he would be able to avoid the surgical procedures he underwent in 2001 and 2003. But when he began feeling tingling and numbness in his leg, the 32-year-old reliever gained a sense that he would need to undergo another surgery.
"I was back to pitching after eight weeks in Australia," Moylan said. "But I didn't have to get back to pitch every day over there. It's a different ballgame over here when you're expected to be ready to pitch every day. So I think 12 weeks will be about right.
Klesko to help Braves as BP pitcher
ATLANTA -- Ryan Klesko will once again be wearing his No. 18 Braves jersey and hanging around Turner Field on a regular basis. He will serve as a left-handed batting-practice pitcher during BP before home games.
"He wants to do it and I like having him around," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Klesko hit .281 with 139 homers and a .525 slugging percentage in the 792 games he played for the Braves. The former outfielder batted .313 (5-for-16) and hit three homers while helping the Braves capture the 1995 World Series.
Alex Gonzalez returned to the lineup Wednesday night. The veteran shortstop missed Tuesday's game after tweaking his left groin during Sunday's series finale in Philadelphia. ... Tim Hudson experienced an oddity when he allowed a pair of three-run homers Tuesday night. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marked just the second time in 332 career starts that he allowed two homers with two or more runners on base in the same game. The other instance was July 21, 2000, when Angels sluggers Mo Vaughn and Garret Anderson tagged him for three-run homers.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.