Sunday, 22 May 2016

After avoiding DL, Jason Heyward won't rush return to Cubs

The Cubs and Jason Heyward breathed a collective sigh of relief Saturday after an MRI revealed the prized right fielder suffered only a bruise near his right rib and hip after making a spectacular diving catch in the second inning of Friday night’s 8-1 victory over the Giants.

The diagnosis will keep Heyward off the 15-day disabled list, but he emphasized he will listen to his body and not rush his return because the Cubs are holding a comfortable lead in late May.

"I listen to my body, regardless of what the doctors are telling me," Heyward said after learning he could be sidelined for only three to five days after landing hard while making a diving catch Friday night. "You have to listen to your body.

"I have to be smart. It's May. We're not in September right now. We're working toward that, but it's not the time to push it."

The Cubs could take precautionary measures and wait to play Heyward until they return to Wrigley Field on Friday to play the Phillies after Thursday's day off.

"I'm definitely feeling better from (Friday) night," Heyward said. "It's still sore and achy, still tight in the area where it happened. (But) it's not as sensitive to touch."

Manager Joe Maddon initially thought Heyward might have suffered a neck injury after watching him crash into the base of the wall in right-center field.

But Maddon was relieved when Heyward was able to walk off the spacious AT&T outfield after the injury. He also walked to the team bus before Saturday's game.

"I'm lucky," Heyward said. "Very, very lucky. God looked out for me on that one. I was fortunate to walk off the field."

Heyward ranked his catch as one of his best, comparing it to a diving catch he made in center field for the Braves against the Mets in New York and a home run-robbing catch in the playoffs.

Despite his violent collision, Heyward had the awareness to show that he made the catch before writhing in pain.

"I just knew I wasn't going to be able to hold on to it much longer," Heyward said. "It was rough. I didn't want it to be for nothing and drop the ball and (have the umpire) rule he's safe.''

Said Maddon: "All I know is it was a great play. He had an extreme angle he had to run. The distance he covered, the angle he created, the extending of his body — everything was incredible."

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