He's entering his fourth year in the majors, but really this is the first time Jason Heyward has had what could be considered a normal offseason.
Before his 2010 rookie year in 2010, he was just 20 years old with no big-league experience and only 50 games (208 plate appearances) above the Class-A level, including just three games at Triple-A. The 2009 Baseball American minor league player of the year, Heyward hurt his back in the first week of the Arizona Fall League and was pulled out and brought home. No one knew what to expect in the spring and it wasn't a certainty that he'd be on the big-league club.
Before his 2011 season, Heyward spent part of the offseason resting the sore thumb that had marred an otherwise-brilliant rookie season and kept him out of the All-Star game, after he'd been voted a starter in fan balloting.
And then before last season, Heyward spent the offseason overhauling a lot of things, from his body – he dropped about 20 pounds, down to 235 – to his swing. His production had plummeted from .277/.393/.456 with 52 extra-base hits (18 homers) as a rookie to .227/.319/.389 with 34 extra-base hits (14 homers) in an injury-plagued second season, when a nagging shoulder affected his swing for much of the season and got him into some bad habits at the plate.
He spent last offseason breaking down and reworking his swing, first with his private hitting instructor in the fall, then with Chipper Jones and new Braves hitting coaches Greg Walker and assistant Scott Fletcher from the start of the new year into spring training. It was the third straight season that Heyward had a new Braves hitting coach (or coaches, in this case).
Braves' Heyward excited, ready to play
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Jan 31