Braves activate Jason Heyward from DL

Mike Zarrilli

Heyward will play center field and hit leadoff in his first game back since suffering a broken jaw.

The Atlanta Braves activated Jason Heyward from the 15-day disabled list Friday, reports David O'Brien from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Heyward will hit leadoff and play center field in the series opener against the Chicago Cubs. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told O'Brien that Heyward will not play all nine innings, but declined to say how many he innings he will play.

The outfielder suffered a broken jaw on Aug. 21 after being hit by a Jon Niese fastball.

Heyward starting taking batting practice against coaches one week ago, and faced a live pitcher Wednesday when the team flew in minor-leaguer Mark Lamm to throw him batting practice, according to O'Brien.

Heyward had been a key contributor to the Atlanta lineup before suffering his injury. In the 22 games before breaking his jaw, Heyward hit .357/.426/.607 with five homers and 15 RBIs. He spent all 22 games at the top of the order, and the Braves went 18-4 during the stretch.

Atlanta has missed Heyward, going 13-13 in the 26 games since his injury. The Braves still enter Friday with the best record in the NL at 90-62, and can clinch the NL East on Friday with a win and a Washington Nationals loss.

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