Heyward hurt making catch vs. Giants; MRI Saturday, DL possible

SHARE Heyward hurt making catch vs. Giants; MRI Saturday, DL possible
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Jason Heyward is helped off the field after catching a fly ball hit by the Giants’ Denard Span and crashing into the outfield wall in the first inning Friday in San Francisco. | Eric Risberg/AP

SAN FRANCISCO – The Cubs got off to the best seven-week start in the majors this year with one outfielder tied behind their backs.

Now they might be faced with trying to keep it going minus two key outfielders after $184 million right fielder Jason Heyward left Friday’s 8-1 victory over the Giants in the first inning with an injury to his right side from a frightening collision with the wall in right-center.

X-rays Friday were negative for broken bones, but Heyward is to have an MRI Saturday and said Friday night he wasn’t sure if he will be able to avoid the disabled list.

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Already without lefty slugger Kyle Schwarber for the season because of an April 7 knee injury, the Cubs watched Heyward make one of the most spectacular defensive plays of the season on the running, lunging catch, before suffering the injury to his right rib and hip area when he fell and slid head-first into the wall on the continuation of the play.

He said when he hit the wall “my lower rib bone and my hip bone hit each other.”

He rolled over in obvious pain, immediately clutching his right side. After several minutes on the ground being examined by the Cubs’ trainer, he left the field under his own power.

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“I’ve got to see how I feel [Saturday]. I imagine I’ll be uncomfortable,” Heyward said when asked about his sense of a possible DL move. “Just got to see what the MRI says as far as anything structural. I’m really just relieved nothing’s broken.”

Hours after the play, the pain was still persistent.

“No sharp pain,” he said. “But it’s a little more than dull.”

Manager Joe Maddon, who said he initially feared for Heyward’s head and neck as the play unfolded, said he didn’t want to speculate on the seriousness of the injury or potential timeline.

Kris Bryant moved from third to right to replace Heyward defensively, and Tommy La Stella came off the bench to take over for Bryant at third.

If the injury forces Heyward to the disabled list, the likeliest corresponding move would be to activate outfielder Matt Szczur (hamstring) from the DL. Szczur started a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday with Class AA Tennessee.

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Heyward was off to a slow start at the plate this season, some of that caused by a sore wrist he dealt with for about a month. But his Gold Glove fielding and base running has been among the best in the league by eye test and metrics, and has been a big part of the Cubs’ early success.

If they’re forced to play without Heyward for a stretch after already losing Schwarber?

“Of course, we’ll make adjustments,” Maddon said. “But I’m anticipating good right now. That’s the way this game goes.”

Heyward was off to a slow start at the plate this season, some of that caused by a sore wrist he dealt with for about a month. But his Gold Glove fielding and base running has been among the best in the league by eye test and metrics, and has been a big part of the Cubs’ early success.

The catch itself got almost as much attention in postgame conversation as Heyward’s injury.

“Amazing catch,” starting pitcher Jake Arrieta said.

Maddon, who was a coach on the Angels’ staff during Jim Edmonds’ prime, said Heyward’s catch Friday might be the best he’s ever seen in a game he was involved in.

“In person, just purely let your body go, just caution to the wind, man, that was incredible,” Maddon said.

And teammate Dexter Fowler was even compelled to interrupt Heyward’s media interview. “That’s the ESPY play of the year,” Fowler said.


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