Ex-Pelican Heyward suffers broken jaw from errant pitch

Former Myrtle Beach Pelican and Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward was hit on the right side of his jaw by a pitch during Wednesday afternoon’s game against the New York Mets and was taken to a hospital for tests, which revealed two fractures.

Heyward, whose jaw has been stabilized, will undergo surgery in Atlanta on Thursday. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Heyward was batting in the sixth inning when a 90 mph pitch from Mets left-hander Jonathan Niese came up and in and appeared to strike him below the ear flap on his helmet. He took a step and fell to the dirt at home plate.

“It was tough,” Niese said. “I wanted to elevate a fastball, but it kind of ran in on him. Obviously no intent. I just feel bad. It’s every pitcher and hitter’s worst nightmare. I hope he’s OK. … I felt horrible.”

After remaining down for several minutes, Heyward was helped up and he left the field slowly. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Heyward, who was bleeding from the mouth, never lost consciousness.

“He was talking the whole time when he got hit with the ball,” Gonzalez said. “Before they took him to the hospital he popped his head into the dugout and said bye to some of the guys. I had a chance to talk to him briefly after that.”

The pitch appeared to be unintentional. Niese showed his concern and made a gesture toward Heyward as he was leaving the field.

Heyward, the Braves’ leadoff hitter, is batting .254 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs this season.

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