Heyward draws comparison to Pujols
When asked about the 450-foot homer that Jason Heyward bounced off the building beyond the right field wall here in Lakeland this afternoon, Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton was serious when he said, “He didn’t get all of it, but it went a long way.”
It’s widely recognized that Heyward will likely hit a number of home runs before his big league career is over some time around 2030. But as the baseball world is coming to realize, his power is just a portion of his talents that set him up to be one of upper echelon talents who realize immediate success at the Major League level.
After watching Heyward battle back from an 0-2 count, spit on a 2-2 fastball that just missed the outside corner and then send Max Scherzer’s 3-2 fastball into orbit, Tigers manager Jim Leyland drew comparisons to the plate discipline and patience he saw from a young Albert Pujols nearly a decade ago.
“Obviously a young man that size, with the strength he has, he looks like a good-looking young player,” Leyland said. “I was very impressed with his patience at the plate. That’s what I was impressed with more than anything. He didn’t chase any bad balls. That’s what impressed me. I was impressed with his at-bats. He didn’t even offer at anything unless it was a strike. Pujols was the other guy I saw that was like that.” <p>
Braves manager Bobby Cox added, “I don’t think he has swung at a bad pitch yet.”
It will be years before Heyward could even be considered to be put in the lofty realm of Pujols. But it’s still pretty telling that he’s already drawing comparisons to the Cardinals first baseman, who hit .329 with 37 homers while playing his 2001 rookie season at the ripe age of 21.
Jurrjens to face Yanks: As originally reported, Jair Jurrjens is once again scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Yankees. But first the 24-year-old right-hander will test his shoulder one more time during a live batting practice session on Tuesday night.
Huddy’s outing: When Tim Hudson needed just 15 pitches to complete two scoreless innings against the Mets last week, he walked away wondering how he had gotten away a number of pitches that didn’t find their intended location.
Hudson was once again dissatisfied with the fastball command he had while limiting the Tigers to one run and three hits in three innings on Monday afternoon. But with his changup and sinker working, the 34-year-old right-hander walked away from the outing pretty satisfied.
Jo-Jo as a reliever: With yet another strong outing amid the setting of a Spring Training game, Jo-Jo Reyes once again drew some praise from Cox, who believes the left-handed hurler has improved both his sinker and slider.
After Reyes limited the Tigers to one hit and recorded three strikeouts in two scoreless innings, Cox was asked if the left-hander might be considered for a relief role.
“More and more, it looks like he could,” Cox said. “My idea was always to have him start and be ready. But if he throws like he’s throwing right now, he could go either way.”
Cox added that this possibility hasn’t been discussed. Given the limited depth of starters that would be deemed Major League-ready at the beginning of the year, this might end up being an option that is never truly explored.
Odds and ends: With two more hits on Monday, Troy Glaus has now recorded a single in each of his past five at-bats…Eric Hinske entered Monday with one hit in his first eight plate appearances of the year and exited with his own three-hit performance…You can watch Heyward and the rest of the Braves face Roy Halladay and the Phillies on CSS tomorrow night. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.