4/11/2014 12:07 A.M. ET
Heyward remains confident after early slump
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- When Jason Heyward ended Tuesday's night's loss to the Mets by seeing his potential game-tying grand slam fall less than 10 feet shy of the center-field wall, he did not look like a guy who had gone hitless in his past 22 at-bats.
Instead, Heyward elicited a sense of confidence that only strengthened as he doubled his season hit total to six with a three-hit performance in Wednesday night's win over the Mets. The Braves' leadoff hitter entered Thursday night hitting .188 (6-for-32) through this season's first eight games.
"That's not the way you want to start off, but that's the way I started off," Heyward said. "But the good thing is I know what I can do. You just have to stay on the field to get enough reps."
Some of Heyward's early struggles could be blamed on the neck strain he sustained during the first inning of Saturday night's game against the Nationals. As he went hitless during the 10 at-bats he compiled during the final two games of this past weekend's series in Washington, he battled discomfort and a headache caused by the strain.
"I don't talk much about that, but headaches are headaches," Heyward said.
B.J. Upton gets hitting lesson from Chipper
ATLANTA -- As Chipper Jones progressed through his legendary career with the Braves, many of his teammates often went to him with the hope of benefiting from his sound understanding of offensive approach and swing mechanics.
Though he never had the opportunity to play with Jones, B.J. Upton was given a chance to benefit from his tutelage when the former Braves third baseman spent Thursday afternoon catching up with friends and former teammates at Turner Field.
"When it comes to hitting, it's hard for me to keep quiet," Jones said with a smile.
After resting him on Wednesday, the Braves put Upton back in the lineup's second spot on Thursday night with the hope that he might benefit from some of the tips provided by Jones, who has proven he has a knack for speaking a language that other players understand when it comes to hitting.
"He's got a little extra hinge with his hands that is taking his bat past perpendicular," Jones said. "Whenever you do that, your back elbow comes up. In order to get back to swing the bat, the elbow has to come down, which means the bat path loops and he's got this upward plane. The ball down, he'll be able to hit. But the pitch thigh-high, he's going to have trouble with it."
Upton entered Thursday with a .138 batting average and 13 strikeouts through his first 29 at-bats. In other words, the veteran center fielder has extended the struggles he experienced last year when he hit .185 and struck out once every 2.95 plate appearances.
"He was starting to get what we were talking about," Jones said. "If he is going to hinge, don't go past perpendicular. Right now, we just have to get him on the right [swing] plane."
Thursday marked the first time Jones had visited the Braves since he was embarrassed by the fact that he was forced to throw the ceremonial first pitch to a mascot before Game 1 of last year's National League Division Series against the Dodgers.
Many of the Braves veteran players refused to catch the pitch because they were upset Jones had picked the Dodgers to win the series when asked for his prediction by a local radio station. Jones felt former Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson had convinced his teammates to refuse to partake in the event.
"That's over," Jones said. "Huddy and I talked. We said what needs to be said."
Simmons scratched with jammed wrist
ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons arrived at Turner Field with the expectation to play in Thursday night's series finale against the Mets. But the Braves scratched him from the lineup after his right wrist proved to be too bothersome during batting practice.
After Thursday's night's 6-4 loss, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated Simmons could return to the lineup as early as Friday. But his tone provided the indication that the talented shortstop may need at least one more day of rest.
"We'll go day-to-day, hopefully no more than that," Gonzalez said.
Simmons jammed his right wrist when he tripped over home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger's foot after being tagged out at the plate during the fifth inning of Wednesday night's game. The stumble came after he slowed as he neared the plate, with Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud already in possession of the baseball.
Major League Baseball's new collision rules prohibit runners from making contact in this situation.
Simmons played the remainder of Wednesday's contest, but experienced more discomfort when he attempted to swing the bat and make throws during Thursday's batting practice. Gonzalez said the wrist proved most problematic when Simmons was attempting to swing the bat.
When Simmons was scratched, Ramiro Pena was given the assignment to serve as the starting shortstop and fill the eighth spot in the lineup. Pena was one of Atlanta's most-valuable reserves before he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last June. He had recorded just two at-bats before going 1-for-4 on Thursday.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.