Jason Heyward injury: Braves OF will take batting practice on Friday

Mike Stobe

It's still too early to set a timetable for his return, but Heyward is definitely making steps in the right direction.

Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward is scheduled to take batting practice on Friday for the first time since breaking his jaw three weeks ago, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

More Braves: Heyward Getting Closer

The Braves are still hesitant about putting a definitive timeline on Heyward's return to the lineup, but things are definitely progressing. The 24-year-old outfielder had the rubber bands that were holding his jaw together removed from his mouth on Monday, per Bowman, and is now fitted with a mouth guard.

Heyward suffered a pair of fractures in his jaw on Aug. 21, when a pitch from Mets southpaw Jon Niese hit him square in the face. He went under the knife the following day to put everything back into place and was essentially ruled out for the remainder of the regular season.

The Braves are still hopeful that Heyward may be able to contribute in the postseason, however, and receiving the all-clear to take batting practice seems to indicate that an October return may not be just wishful thinking. If Heyward does progress to the point where suiting up is possible, he'll likely play a few games in the club's instructional league -- which starts next Monday -- before returning to the big-league roster.

Heyward is batting .253/.347/.423 with 13 home runs in 95 games on the year. Jordan Schafer and Evan Gattis -- who have both hit surprisingly well this season -- have filled in the open outfield spot, so Atlanta hasn't lost much offensive production in Heyward's absence.

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