Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward will likely be placed on the disabled list after undergoing an appendectomy in Denver on Monday. Heyward has struggled this year, putting together a .121/.261/.259 statline in 17 games. He's homered twice, but has been extremely unlucky thusfar this season with just a .114 BABIP.
Heyward's DL stint will likely be retroactive to Sunday, meaning that he'll be eligible for return on May 5th. Atlanta's high powered offense hasn't been at full strength since the first week of the season, after which first baseman Freddie Freeman was placed on the DL with a strained oblique. Now, with Freeman scheduled to return from the DL when the series in Denver finally begins, Heyward wil be taking his spot on the DL.
Filling Heyward's shoes in right field will likely end up being a combination of Jordan Schafer and Reed Johnson, neither of whom can match Heyward's overall offensive production over a long-term sample, but could adequately fill in over the short term.
Atlanta's main issue is that with Freeman's return, they have a four solid hitters for three positions, and none of those four players can really play the outfield. Unless the Braves want to gamble and play someone like Chris Johnson or Juan Francisco in the outfield, neither of which has any experience out there, the team will really end up in a pickle and one of those players will end up on the bench.
The other option for Atlanta is to play power hitting catcher Evan Gattis in the outfield and roll with veteran Gerald Laird behind the plate, but that would probably end up being a net loss for the team defensively and maybe even on offense as well.
This injury probably couldn't come at a worse time for Atlanta, as they've got three games in Denver and three in Detroit left on this road trip before returning home to take on the Nationals for four games and the Mets for three. But considering Heyward's offensive struggles and the crummy luck he's suffered so far this season, maybe a couple of weeks off recovering will be best for him, and things will turn around for him when he gets back.