I'm already getting the chills just thinking of what a healthy Jason Heyward will mean to the Atlanta Braves this season. Here is the money quote from an article posted over the weekend about our young outfielder by Peter Gammons:
When Heyward was growing up outside of Atlanta, he went to a handful of Braves games every year, and after playing every day in one of the nation's elite programs, he watched the games with his parents. What he didn't know then was what Major League players deal with, especially when they are hurt.
"With the help of my parents, I realized that the only way to cope with disappointment is to overcome it with hard work," Heyward says. "Performance comes from work and dedication, belief and strength. Words and excuses get you nowhere."
The even tempered way in which Heyward carries himself continues to impress me time and again. I remember what a punk I was at age 20, and I also remember how immature and impulsive I was at age 25, but I've never been subjected to anything close to the pressure situations that Heyward has been under since he was in high school. For a kid his age to carry himself that calmly and be so self aware is an amazing thing, and it has been and will continue to be one of Jason Heyward's greatest assets.
I'm really excited to see what a healthy Heyward can do this year. In an off-season for the Braves that was more about subtraction than addition, a renewed Heyward is the key to a successful 2012.