04/17/2013 3:17 AM ET
Heyward remembers Jackie as a role model
By Ray Glier / Special to MLB.com
ATLANTA -- The movie "42," the recently-released Hollywood version of Jackie Robinson's story, resonates with Braves right fielder Jason Heyward.
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What is especially significant for Heyward is that Robinson understood what it meant to be a role model.
"You have to understand people are watching you, especially the kids," Heyward said. "It's about handling yourself the right way, which he did. Playing the game on the field a certain way, hustling, doing all the little things."
The Braves and Royals honored Robinson's legacy Tuesday night by wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, who is of Cuban heritage, said Robinson did not just open the door for African-Americans, but for all nationalities.
"I read the book. I couldn't imagine all the pressure he was under to play a game," Gonzalez said.
The Braves currently have three African-American players in the outfield, but Heyward is not sure what impact this will have on Atlanta's youth.
"It's about opportunity," Heyward said.
What he meant was that kids are playing more football than baseball by a wide margin, partly because there are far more college scholarships available in NCAA Division I football (85) than baseball (11.7).
Heyward has another connection to Robinson, who played at UCLA. Heyward's uncle, Kenneth Washington, was a basketball player at UCLA and part of the early Bruins dynasty (1963-66) under coach John Wooden. In addition, both Heyward and Robinson were born in Georgia.
"Pretty cool," he said.
McCann's rehab complicated by wrist issue
ATLANTA -- Brian McCann's rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and eventual return to the Braves was complicated somewhat this week when he returned to Atlanta to have his right wrist examined because of tenderness.
McCann had been in Orlando as part of his rehab, came back to Atlanta, then returned Tuesday, according to general manager Frank Wren.
Wren said the wrist issue was unrelated to his shoulder.
"We're not sure yet," Wren said when asked when McCann might catch in a game as part of his rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Wren said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who is on the disabled list with a strained right oblique, was going to be examined by a doctor Tuesday. He was put on the DL on April 7.
Freeman was perturbed when the Braves placed him on the DL without talking with him first, but he seemed to be over that issue on Tuesday.
"I understand their reasoning," he said. The club said sometimes players need to be protected from themselves.
Freeman took light batting practice in the indoor cage, which was a coach flipping balls underhanded to him as he hit into the big net.
• The Braves bullpen entered the two-game series with Kansas City Tuesday night without allowing any of their 14 inherited runners to score this season
• Left fielder Justin Upton already has seven home runs. He did not hit his seventh home run until the 65th game of the 2012 season.
• The Braves have outscored opponents 62-23, and the plus-39 run differential is the highest in the Majors. This is despite the Braves entering Tuesday hitting .258 as a team, which is eighth in the National League. It's all about pitching, though: a 1.82 ERA, almost a full run better than second place Los Angeles (2.68).
• The Braves joined the chorus of support for Boston in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy by playing the Neil Diamond song "Sweet Caroline," which is associated with Boston and the Red Sox. The crowd stood in the eighth inning and some held signs in support of the city. It is a song written in 1969 and inspired by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, whose family has a rich history in Massachusetts.
• Tuesday was the first career multi-homer game for Juan Francisco.
• Justin Upton leads the Majors with eight home runs after 13 games. It took him 65 games just to hit seven in 2012.
• The Braves' 10-game winning streak is their longest since 2000.
Ray Glier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.