AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Jason Heyward is hoping to make it back in time to play for the Atlanta Braves in the postseason, while ailing starting pitcher Brandon Beachy is shooting for the end of September.
Heyward joined the team Tuesday for the first time since the slugger was beaned by Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese last Wednesday, breaking the right side of his jaw with a 90-mph fastball.
Heyward, who underwent surgery and had two metal plates inserted, hopes to return for the playoffs. Atlanta had baseball's best record before Tuesday night's game against Cleveland.
"I don't have a timetable for you," Heyward said. "I don't know if it's going to be sooner. I don't know if it's going to be later. I don't know how long it's going to take to heal. But I know as soon as possible I'd like to be playing baseball."
The slugger, who missed 22 games in April and May after undergoing an appendectomy, became Atlanta's leadoff hitter on July 27. Over his next 22 games, Heyward hit .349 with five homers, 15 RBIs and 23 runs scored.
Heyward's jaw seemed only slightly swollen as he spoke with reporters. He will re-evaluated by a specialist on Thursday, but the outfielder has no plans to rush his comeback.
He also will consider wearing a guard on his batting helmet to protect the right side of his face.
"I have to be smart and understand that it's a broken jaw," Heyward said. "It's not just a broken finger or anything like that. So if I do get hit again, if I don't let it heal, that's my mistake. But you have to be smart about it. I want to start the timetable of playing again as soon as possible. I'll just have to wait and see what the doctor says."
Beachy was in the clubhouse one day after learning there's no structural damage in his surgically repaired elbow. The right-hander has missed 109 games over the last two years.
Inflammation and fluid buildup forced him back to the disabled list last Friday. He took a cortisone shot to reduce swelling during his visit Monday with Dr. James Andrews.
Beachy is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts this year. He has never made a relief appearance in 46 career games.
Beachy underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery on June 21, 2012.
"You look at the timing of everything — I'm willing to help this team any way I can," Beachy said. "Obviously my first priority is making sure I'm healthy and then beyond that helping this team win is paramount."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the team has no immediate timetables for Beachy or Heyward.
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