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Jason Heyward opens baseball academy in Chicago

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Dodgers non-roster invitee Jayson Heyward opened a baseball academy in Chicago this week, part of a 10-acre complex that will host thousands of kids annually.

In a Q&A with Patrick Mooney at The Athletic, Heyward talked about the impact he hoped to achieve with his academy, and the role of The Players Alliance in helping make baseball more accessible.

“We want to enjoy as much of Chicago as we can,” Heyward said. “When you give kids more opportunities like this one, then you make it easier on that parent and those guardians.”

Heyward was released by the Cubs in November after two down years, in which he hit a combined .211/.280/.326 with nine home runs and a 67 wRC+ in 152 games. He signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers on December 8.

Chicago is on the hook for the bulk of Heyward’s $22-million salary in 2023, with the Dodgers paying only the major league minimum of $720,000 should the 33-year-old Heyward make the team.

Heyward told Mooney about the Dodgers’ aggressive recruiting, calling him three days in a row, echoing what Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times reported in December.

After missing the last three-plus months of the 2022 season with right knee inflammation, Heyward has been working out at Dodger Stadium this winter.

“It would probably be different if I had played a game since (June 24 last year). That was my last time on the field. I just wanted to do as much as I could to make it natural getting ready for the season. It was time well spent, a lot of fun,” Heyward told Mooney. “Being a baseball fan, this is my fourth historic franchise that I have a chance to be a part of, so it’s soaking that in and not taking that for granted.”

The Dodgers’ first full-squad workout in spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona is Monday, February 20.