Jason Heyward

Hitless no more: Heyward homers, doubles to snap spring skid

SHARE Hitless no more: Heyward homers, doubles to snap spring skid
SHARE Hitless no more: Heyward homers, doubles to snap spring skid

TEMPE, Ariz. — It’s only spring training, but don’t tell that to Jason Heyward.

“An 0-for-15 is going to get to you whenever [it happens],” he said.

Heyward, the megabucks right fielder working on fixing what ailed him offensively last year, unloaded five games’ worth of frustration with a no-doubt-about-it home run to right in his first at-bat Monday against Angels right-hander Jesse Chavez. In his second at-bat, Heyward doubled the opposite way with the bases loaded and two outs against lefty Greg Mahle.

“I’m in love with that [two-run double],” Heyward said. “Those are much tougher to come by, especially with two outs, those situations.”

Heyward, who reworked his swing during the winter, seemed to get a sense of validation for the changes that he said felt right even when the hits weren’t coming.

“As far as knowing you’re working on something and trying to feel something is good and having a clear mind,” Heyward said. “Because every day in [batting practice] I feel amazing. So it’s just putting it together in game speed and working to do that, working hard and working smart. It just gives you that confidence that you’re going to get it done. You’ve just got to keep going and try to find that right timing for the game off the pitchers.”

In his first year of an eight-year, $184 million deal, Heyward hit .230 with seven homers and a .631 OPS.

He seems much more at ease this spring, and manager Joe Maddon has said he likes what he sees in Heyward’s new swing, which features his hands starting lower and quicker.

Hitting coaches John Mallee and Eric Hinske worked with Heyward on reverting to the swing he used to hit a career-high 27 homers in 2012.

“I feel like the last couple days we’ve been going in the right direction,” Heyward said. “Actually, we’ve been going in the right direction all along. But the last piece was timing and just feeling that out and being able to tell myself when to go and when to get ready. Today, I got to see myself and feel myself in game action do it the right way and get myself enough time to take good swings and fight off a tough pitch and get to the next pitch.”

NOTE: Center fielder Albert Almora Jr. was pulled for a pinch hitter in the second inning because of soreness in his left calf, off which he fouled a pitch last week. The bruised area was well enough for Almora to play until flaring up.

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