05/29/11 1:30 AM ET
Heyward working to rid himself of bad habits
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"That's why right now I'm shut down as far as my swing goes," Heyward said. "I don't need to create any bad habits or make it worse."
This has been a trying season for the 21-year-old Heyward, who has undergone two MRIs -- the latest showing wear and tear around his labrum -- and gone without an RBI this month.
The discomfort in Heyward's right shoulder started in March and worsened to the point that he missed six straight starts and received a cortisone shot earlier this month. He returned to the lineup for just three games before being placed on the DL.
"I thought I could play with it some," he said. "I had some stretches this year where I thought I was where I should be. But the wear and tear and how I play every day and how hard I play and swinging the bat made it worse. It's a little frustrating, but I still have time. This is only year two of my career, so I need to take care of it for the long run."
Even though he has been sidelined for a week, Heyward still feels some discomfort in the shoulder. Once he begins feeling better, the Braves plan to send him to extended spring training, where he will be able to compile at-bats and possibly regain the swing and approach he lost while hitting .214 with seven homers and a .724 OPS through 140 at-bats this year.
Heyward struggled early and then righted himself while hitting .400 with two doubles and three homers in his final eight games of April, but he batted .098 (4-for-41) with 15 strikeouts this month.
Feeling better, Moylan looks toward early return
ATLANTA -- A little less than two weeks removed from back surgery, Peter Moylan has already set a goal to return sooner than doctors have projected. But the right-handed reliever knows that he must be smart while recovering from a third procedure to repair a bulging disc in his back.
"Twelve weeks puts me around the start of August," Moylan said. "That would be good in itself. But I kind of want to be back before then."
Moylan has been encouraged by the relief he has realized since the noted surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins repaired his back on May 17 in Los Angeles. He will not be permitted to resume physical activities until after he begins strengthening his core muscles in about three weeks.
"I felt instant relief," Moylan said of the operation. "My back doesn't hurt. My leg doesn't hurt. I'm not getting any shooting pains. It's all good."
Fredi may promote extra reliever
ATLANTA -- Unable to use Eric O'Flaherty because of a sore back, manager Fredi Gonzalez saw Jonny Venters and Scott Linebrink provide him with two scoreless innings in Saturday night's 12-inning, 7-6 win over the Reds.
It was the second straight two-inning appearance for Linebrink and the fourth in the past 11 days for the valuable Venters.
But having no desire to further tax either of these relievers again until at least Monday, Gonzalez said there is a good chance the club will promote a reliever from Triple-A Gwinnett before Sunday night's game.
Cory Gearrin seems to be the most likely candidate. The right-hander posted a 3.18 ERA and limited opponents to a .158 batting average in 10 Major League appearances earlier this year.
Venters concluded Saturday's two-inning appearance by striking out the dangerous Chris Heisey. After the game, he admitted that he was feeling fatigued toward the end of the 36-pitch appearance. The left-hander is on pace to make 88 appearances and throw more than 100 innings this year.
Venters makes an impression on Baker
ATLANTA -- Count Reds manager Dusty Baker among those baffled by Braves reliever Jonny Venters.
"He's a nasty man," Baker said. "He's one of the nastiest around."
Venters has appeared in three career games against Baker's Reds, allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He's 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA in 30 2/3 innings this season and has struck out 28.
Venters didn't appear in Friday's series opener, which the Reds won, 5-1. That was certainly good news for Baker.
"The game plan is to have the lead when he might be in the game," Baker said, laughing. "That's a pretty good game plan, isn't it?"
Baker compared the second-year pro with such former All-Stars as Joe Sambito and Sparky Lyle, certainly high praise for such a young pitcher. Sambito led the Astros in saves from 1978 to 1981, and Lyle was a three-time All-Star and the 1977 American League Cy Young Award winner for the Yankees.
"He's mighty young, but he's mighty good," Baker said. "You don't see many lefties, but lefties that have closer stuff are nasty lefties. They can get anybody out."
Catcher Brian McCann's double in the sixth inning on Friday night gave him the 800th hit of his career in his 801st game. ... Closer Craig Kimbrel gave up a two-run homer to Ramon Hernandez in a non-save situation during Friday night's game. It was the first homer he has allowed in his 45 2/3-inning career. Obviously it was not the early gift desired by Kimbrel, who turned 23 on Saturday. ... The Braves will continue offering free tickets to all active military personnel for Sunday night's game against the Reds and Monday afternoon's game against the Padres. After showing their ID at the Turner Field box office windows, military members will receive an Upper Box ticket. Their family members can buy additional tickets for half price.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.