ATLANTA -- After his much discussed sophomore slump, right fielder Jason Heyward has rebounded to become one of the Braves' best hitters this season. Despite a slow start to the season, Heyward ranks among the club leaders in most offensive categories, from advanced stats including WAR and on-base plus slugging to more traditional numbers such as home runs and stolen bases.
After 100 games, Heyward has 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases, giving him a chance to become the Braves' first 25-25 player since third baseman Chipper Jones hit 45 home runs and stole 25 bases in 1999.
Heyward has always been known as a five-tool player, but he swiped just 20 bases in his first two Major League seasons combined. Heyward has worked to improve on stealing bases, but he didn't want to call himself a good basestealer yet.
"I've only got 15, but I'm working on it and working to get better at it," Heyward said. "It's something that's definitely helpful. It takes some pressure off guys and some of the grind off their ABs."
Five of Heyward's stolen bases have come in 23 games in July, including his first career two-steal game, which came in the Braves' 9-4 loss to the Giants on July 18.
Heyward said because he's hitting third in the lineup, he isn't necessarily looking to steal bases, but the slugger wants to take advantage of the opportunities he gets.
"With our lineup, if I'm on first base, I'm in scoring position," Heyward said. "If there's ever an opportunity to take a base, I'm going to take it."
While Heyward is being aggressive on the basepaths, Jones said he is being more patient at the plate. Jones said some of Heyward's struggles last year stemmed from his propensity to expand the strike zone too far inside, a problem that has been corrected this year.
Heyward has already taken 41 walks, just 10 fewer than he took in 128 games last year. His batting average has climbed to .270, almost back to the .277 he hit when he finished second in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2010.
"He's got the all-around game," Jones said. "He can hit the ball in the gaps and run, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark, we all know that. He can help us manufacture runs, steal bases, and as we get him to cut down his strikeouts, we're going to see his numbers go up."
Chipper starts at third, scares manager with tweet
ATLANTA -- Third baseman Chipper Jones hasn't been on Twitter even a full week yet, but he has already given manager Fredi Gonzalez a scare with his tweets.
Gonzalez is not on Twitter, but his son, Alex, read his father what Jones tweeted following the Braves' 2-1 victory Saturday night against the Phillies.
"Wow Mikey Minor! Hats off to Blanton too. They were dealing. 4 game streak since I got on the twitta. Got a date wit the Doc tmrw. Go Bravos"
Gonzalez didn't immediately realize Jones meant Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay, who is nicknamed Doc, and not an actual doctor.
"I'm thinking, 'Oh, my God,'" Gonzalez said. "And then I put two and two together, 'OK, Doc Halladay.' They're going to kill me with this tweeting stuff."
Jones was in the Braves' lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Phillies, despite it being a day game following a night game. Jones often gets a day off to rest his knees on those days, but the veteran said he can't make backup third baseman Juan Francisco play every day game.
Jones said he will likely take a day off Tuesday against the Marlins after playing four games in a row.
Left field prospect Evan Gattis will be activated from the seven-day disabled list and return to Double-A Mississippi early this week, Gonzalez said. Gattis had been sidelined by a wrist injury since May. He hit 13 home runs in 37 games before getting hurt.
Gonzalez said he considered starting Martin Prado at shortstop and Jose Constanza in left field to put together a more offensive lineup Sunday against Halladay, but with sinkerballer Tim Hudson starting for the Braves, Gonzalez wanted to keep slick-fielding shortstop Paul Janish on the field.
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.