Were it not for the immediate and obvious pain he was in, Jason Heyward’s catch last night would have been a moment to replay again and again and again. The catch, itself, was incredible, and the distance he covered to get there was ridiculous. It was the kind of play you’d watch in awe, and think, “Yeah, that’s why this guy is so freaking special on defense.”
But, yah. The pain.
The reason for Heyward’s departure from the game was dubbed a right torso/abdominal injury that required further evaluation, which seemed a strangely imprecise way to describe an injury. To be sure, the details of an injury aren’t always known right away (Kyle Schwarber sprained ankle and all), but that seemed even more vague than usual.
It turns out there was good reason for it – the injury, as described by Heyward, seems pretty unusual and tough to precisely describe.
Heyward described the injury as his rib cage and hip bone hitting each other when he skidded awkwardly into the wall – just imagining my body contorting in the way necessary for that to happen is enough to cause me discomfort. Although it sounds like he was trying to stay positive after the game, Heyward described the pain as something between a sharp pain and a dull pain, and that it hurt when Dexter Fowler kept making him laugh (Cubs.com).
Hopefully the MRI reveals no structural or serious muscular damage. Even if that’s the case, though, it’s reasonable to assume that Heyward is going to miss some time, and may require a stint on the disabled list. If so, the most logical candidate to replace him on the roster for now would be Matt Szczur, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, and was recently sent to AA Tennessee on a rehab assignment. The problem, though, is that, thanks to a rainout yesterday, Szczur has had only one game so far in the rehab stretch, playing in only four innings, and could need more to get ready to face big league pitching again. The Cubs might have to figure out a shorter-term fill-in to make sure Szczur is ready.
I would not expect Heyward to play today, in any case, and we’ll see what the MRI says today, and go from there. In a perfect world, there is no serious damage, and maybe Heyward gets a couple weeks to rest up (include more rest for his wrist, which, if you’ll recall, had been bothering him since early April), before coming back at full strength without having missed much time, and without the Cubs too much worse for the wear.
Less perfect world? Well, the Cubs are still deep, but any team that loses its starting corner outfielders – especially guys the caliber of Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward – for a significant period of time is going to have some issues.