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Jason Heyward’s thumb is OK. Sorta.

Jan 28, 2011, 10:40 AM EDT

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

The only thing that gives me pause about Jason Heyward‘s career prospects is the sneaking sense that he’s going to be injury prone.  He had a nagging sore knee at the end of the year.  And, of course, he had the ligament issue in his thumb in the middle of the season that probably cost him the Rookie of the Year award.

The thumb was more serious, and Heyward says he’s swinging a bat pain-free. Still, it’s not perfect:

“I don’t have any pain in it, but I still don’t have the full range of motion in it. I still can’t bend it anywhere close to where it was before.  I don’t know if I ever will be able to do that.  But I know it’s not holding me back from hitting.”

It’s probably nothing. How much does one really move their thumb when hitting anyway?  But I worry that he’s going to have nagging injuries.  And no, this is not backed up with any empirical evidence whatsoever.  This is a 100% emotional reaction.

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 28, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Believe in me Craig. Believe.

  2. Jonny 5 - Jan 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    The braves offense should be bangin’ this season. I patiently await the beginning of the season. Actually I’m lying. I don’t feel patient about it at all.

    On Heyward. I once hyperextended my thumb. It bent back past it’s normal limits and kinda popped. It hurt so bad I almost wanted to cry. But it took almost 2 years to get back to normal. 5 years later, it isn’t as stong as the other thumb, and can’t handle as much weight load. I’ve injured it since because it isn’t like it used to be, and never will. He should be able to handle a bat fine, but sliding into base he really needs to make sure he doesn’t bump the bag the wrong way. Injury will come much easier now on that particular thumb. By my experience anyway.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  4. billybeaneismyhero - Jan 28, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    A couple of nagging injuries over the first year isn’t cause for concern. If those injuries keep him out of action for parts of 2011 and 2012, then I’ll worry.

  5. mercyflush - Jan 28, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    it’s more than just last year though. He’s had a history of little injuries. read any scouting report on him before last season, the only negative anyone ever says about him is in reference to injuries: e.g., “a little bit of an injury history” (, or “he’s ranked #1, even with his injury history” (Kieth Law), etc.

    I agree with Craig that he seems to be one of those guys that may not have serious injuries, but won’t ever met it through a season healthy

  6. BC - Jan 28, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Dude needs to take Aleve. That stuff terminates everything.

  7. spudchukar - Jan 28, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    The difficulty with hand, wrist, or finger injuries, is the compensation. Sometimes this is done subconsciously. Often times players do not even recognize it themselves. Hitting a baseball is so difficult that even the slightest interference with normal athletic movements can have monumental impacts. That does not mean they cannot be overcome, but adjustments usually create a trade-offs, which can become habit forming, big-time negatives. Younger players are most susceptible since they are inexperienced adapters. Heyward’s demeanor and intelligence are characteristics that lend themselves to prudent corrections. His susceptibility to inside heat however is problematic, because thumbs take a good deal of the impact there. Knowing this teams now have two reasons for pitching him there. Keith Law has criticized Heyward for his “bar-armed” swing, which usually means the inside pitch will give them trouble. However, he stands pretty far away from the plate, and is comfortable with hitting the ball to the alleys, both huge pluses for his style. He has shown the ability to turn on inside pitches, when he is looking for them, and his patience allows him to get favorable counts where he can do that. My guess is he will be fine. Maybe not the 40+ home run guy, but with all his other attributes, his OBP and OPS should be among the league leaders. Lets all hope his history of injuries becomes just that, history.

  8. cintiphil - Jan 29, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    We hate to see guys with all the raw talent nagged by these injuries. How great can these guys be if they stay healthy? Look at Albert’s problems. How good can he get with a strong back and elbow, wrist or whatever ails him? Same goes for Heyward.

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