Former Cub Jason Heyward settling in nicely with Dodgers

In his first game against the Cubs since they released him, Heyward came close to hitting a home run Saturday. But he was robbed by Cody Bellinger.

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The Dodgers’ Jason Heyward is congratulated in the dugout after homering against the Rockies on April 3.

The Dodgers’ Jason Heyward is congratulated in the dugout after homering against the Rockies on April 3.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — It looked as though Dodgers outfielder Jason Heyward had hit a home run — which would have been his fourth of the season — Saturday against his former team.

Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger, who’s as familiar with the outfield at Dodger Stadium as anyone, tracked Heyward’s long fly back to the center-field wall. He jumped, reached and pulled the ball back for an out.

Dodgers fans, who had been showering Bellinger with cheers in his return to Dodger Stadium, booed. Bellinger grinned and held his palms up in a slight shrug, as if to say, ‘‘What?’’

That moment — Heyward’s first at-bat against the Cubs since they released him during the offseason — christened the outfielder swap.

The weekend was full of reunions. Bellinger got a tribute video and automatic-strike-inducing applause Friday for his return to a stadium he had called home for six seasons. Heyward will get his return to Wrigley Field this week.

But the weekend gave Heyward a chance to catch up with former teammates, including one he won a World Series with: Cubs manager David Ross.

‘‘I know this organization,’’ Ross said of the Dodgers, with whom he started his playing career. ‘‘‘I know [manager] Dave [Roberts] pretty well and have been around. I’m sure he fits right in over here.’’

At first, Heyward wasn’t sure what his future would look like after parting with the Cubs. When he was asked in September whether he planned on playing this season, Heyward said: ‘‘That’s the plan. But as we’re sitting here today, plans don’t always go as you hope.’’

This time, they did. The Dodgers reached out early and often leading up to Heyward’s signing.

Heyward spent about 3½ weeks in Los Angeles and a little more than a month this offseason in Arizona, working with the Dodgers’ hitting coaches. Then he claimed a roster spot out of spring training, platooning with Trayce Thompson in center field to replace Bellinger. Though Heyward’s average sunk below .200 after an 0-for-3 night Saturday, the power is there.

Ross joked after Bellinger robbed Heyward of a homer: ‘‘Serves him right. J-Hey took one away from Nico [Hoerner] early on.’’

Heyward made the first play of the game Saturday, sprinting back to the warning track and leaping to catch Hoerner’s deep line drive, which otherwise would have been an extra-base hit.

‘‘Proud of betting on myself, no doubt,’’ Heyward said. ‘‘But having support of the family, having support from teammates, people I knew from the Dodgers’ organization, former teammates, former people I worked with pulling for me. I’m happy to be playing baseball in a spot that is trying to win and has a lot of tradition.’’

Heyward took the lead on one piece of that Dodgers tradition before the game Saturday, which was Jackie Robinson Day across the majors.

He addressed both teams in front of Robinson’s statue inside the center-field gate. Then during pregame ceremonies, microphone in hand, Heyward addressed the sellout crowd from the field.

He pointed to Robinson’s impact on his own life, as a Black baseball player who grew up in Georgia, a few hours up the road from where Robinson was born. He said he committed to play at UCLA, where Robinson lettered in four sports, before being drafted out of high school. He connected Robinson’s influence to the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy he started in the North Austin neighborhood of Chicago.

‘‘Then last but certainly not least,’’ Heyward said, ‘‘to be able to be here today with you all before a game, wearing Dodger blue, to officially thank Jackie as a Dodger for making [No.] 42 special to us, for opening a lot of doors for all of us to play this game, to enjoy this game and put differences aside, I’m blessed to be able to do that as a Dodger today here in front of you all.’’

He finished his speech with this: ‘‘Go, Dodgers.’’

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