ATLANTA -- Right fielder Jason Heyward was out of the Braves lineup Tuesday for the first time in more than two months. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he wanted to give Heyward a day off, and with the Padres starting left-hander Clayton Richard, Tuesday was a good time for it.
Heyward had played in every inning since he entered the Braves' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on June 12 in the seventh inning. His last day off was the Braves' 12-4 loss to the Blue Jays on June 10.
"I think he's fine," Gonzalez said. "I just wanted to give him a breather."
Heyward is hitting .268 and leads the Braves with 19 home runs this season. During his 55 consecutive games played streak, Heyward hit .289 with a .507 slugging percentage and 11 home runs.
Outfielder Reed Johnson replaced Heyward in the lineup, making his first start in right field since being acquired in the Braves' July 30 trade with the Cubs.
Diaz set for season-ending surgery on thumb
ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Matt Diaz, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 21 with a right thumb bruise, will undergo surgery Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET to remove remnants of splinters that he believes he got in 2006. The surgery has an eight- to 12-week recovery period and will end Diaz's season.
Diaz, 35, is at the end of a two-year contract he signed with the Pirates before the 2011 season (the Braves acquired him in a trade on Aug. 31 of that year). He said he doesn't want his career to end with an injury and intends to play next season.
"I'm not going out with a splinter," Diaz said. "I'm going to have someone tell me I'm not good enough to play next year before I'm going to quit."
Wednesday's surgery will be performed by Dr. Gary Lourie, who also operated on Diaz's thumb in 2010. Diaz said the procedure will be the same as it was two years ago, only more invasive, so Lourie can make sure all the foreign bodies are removed.
When Diaz had the surgery in 2010, he was trying to get back to action as soon as possible. But with the end of this regular season only six weeks away, returning isn't possible. That gives Lourie the opportunity to make a larger incision without delaying Diaz's return to the field.
"He's going to be able to take his time, look around in there, open it up wider and make sure we've gotten every last piece," Diaz said.
Diaz is hitting .222 with a .280 on-base percentage in 51 games this season. He has mainly provided a right-handed bat off the Braves' bench and backed up the corner outfield spots.
Coming off an injury with subpar numbers, Diaz knows he won't be highly sought after as a free agent. He said his preference would be to remain with the Braves, where he has played seven seasons of his 10-year career.
Diaz said he would be willing to sign a Minor League contract if necessary, but is hopeful he won't have to go back to Triple-A, where he has played 272 games, to revive his career.
"I might be going to try to add on to some of my International League stats, but I want to play baseball again," Diaz said. "I hope not to. It's a great league, don't get me wrong. I've just spent enough time there to have some career marks and I don't want to add to those."
Braves' struggles against lefties influence lineup
ATLANTA -- A day after losing 4-1 to the Padres and soft-tossing left-hander Eric Stults, the Braves will face Clayton Richard, another lefty starter. The Braves are 19-25 in games started by left-handers this season, compared to 47-24 against right-handers.
The Braves winning percentage against left-handers (.431) is worse than the National League's total against lefties (.501). And of teams with overall winning records, the Braves' struggles against lefties stand out even more. They are the only NL team with a losing record against lefties.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said this has been a recurring problem in his managerial career.
"It seems like every team that I've been involved in has trouble against left-handed starters," Gonzalez said. "And the slower, the worse."
Four of the Braves regulars are left-handed, making them more susceptible to lefty pitchers. Gonzalez put another right-handed bat into the lineup Tuesday by giving right fielder Jason Heyward a day off and starting Reed Johnson instead.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said shortstop Andrelton Simmons' status remained the same after visiting Dr. Gary Lourie yesterday. Simmons has been on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right pinkie since July 8.
Injured and typically clean-cut right-hander Brandon Beachy said he will let his hair grow out until he is allowed to throw again. Beachy is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected to resume throwing in October. Until then, he said he was going for the look of Matt Bomer's character Neal Caffrey on the USA show "White Collar."
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.