‘This stuff’s scary,’ says Cubs’ Jason Heyward upon return from concussion DL

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Heyward

CINCINNATI — Right fielder Jason Heyward didn’t expect to be sidelined for almost two weeks when he got to the clubhouse feeling sore May 7. The night before, Heyward banged his head against the wall trying to catch Dexter Fowler’s walk-off home run in St. Louis.

“I felt it was supposed to be normal to be that sore,” Heyward said. “And then I just kind of noticed I wasn’t feeling right.”

But by the time he was cleared to be activated from the concussion disabled list Friday, he knew it could have been much longer.

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“I wasn’t going to say anything, and then eventually I was glad I did,” said Heyward, speaking publicly about the injury for the first time because no access is allowed to a player in Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol.

Heyward didn’t start against the Reds, but he’s expected to in one of the games Saturday and then again Sunday.

“I’ve never had a concussion. I guess it just kind of makes a believer out of me,” he said. “Not that I didn’t believe before, but just to go through it, you feel for anybody that goes through it. This stuff’s scary. Because you don’t feel like yourself, and then you don’t see anything wrong with you physically but there’s something that’s not right.”

The first symptom was extra upper-body soreness the next day. Then he just felt strange, at which point he entered the protocol. It wasn’t until a few days ago that normal levels of energy returned.

Heyward’s symptoms weren’t as severe as some other recent cases in the game, including Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who missed the last two months of last season after being beaned.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was forced to retire as a catcher before the 2007 season because doctors wouldn’t clear him to play after his previous concussion sidelined him for the final four months of 2006.

But timelines are unpredictable with concussions, and symptoms can worsen suddenly.

That’s why the Cubs were so careful with Kris Bryant when he was hit on the helmet by a fastball in Colorado last month. He missed three games in four days.

“That was definitely a hard part of it,” Heyward said of the uncertainty. “I think like Day 3 I woke up and I was, ‘OK, I feel good.’ And then I got to the field, and I was like, ‘This is not anywhere near OK, and I don’t feel good.’

“It was frustrating. There were days where I was sad, down. But it’s just good being around the guys. . . . It was a bunch of everything — fatigue, not feeling like myself, cold, dull headaches. But it passed, thank goodness.”

Notes: Left-hander Randy Rosario, who was recalled from Class AAA Iowa on Thursday, was optioned back to make room for Jason Heyward. But Rosario is expected to be added again as the 26th man for the doubleheader Saturday.

Kyle Hendricks will start the first game and Jose Quintana the second.

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