As Cody Bellinger returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time last weekend, Jason Heyward made his return to Wrigley Field last night after spending the previous seven seasons with the Cubs.
“Been a pleasure to be able to do it here for 7 years…it’s cool to be playing baseball here again and have a chance to do it with another team.” Jason Hayward talks about his return back to Chicago and all the memories it brings. pic.twitter.com/vz3Xg6gwyL— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 20, 2023
Heyward signed an eight-year contract worth $184 million with Chicago in December 2015. Although Heyward struggled offensively throughout the majority of his deal, he was remembered and beloved within the clubhouse for his leadership and ability to rally the troops. Most notably, it was Heyward who gave a speech during a rain delay in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series that ultimately helped the Cubs break their 108-year championship curse.
His poor offensive metrics during his Cubs tenure ultimately led the organization to release Heyward midway through last season. There was never any guarantee that he would make the major leagues again, and so he opted to sign a minor league contract with the Dodgers this past offseason.
A strong spring showing helped Heyward revitalize mentally and catapult himself into the 26-man roster for Opening Day. He has served as a source of influence and guidance for the entire team during their bumpy start to the season, as Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic notes:
“Now gifted a ‘new lease on life’ in the game, Heyward is trying to make the most of it. His swing overhaul has paid some short-term dividends. He’s been a steadying presence for a club in the midst of an unsteady start. That, Freeman said, is just part of who Heyward is.”
- Robert Sanchez of SNY at Yahoo Sports describes how Noah Syndergaard felt facing his old Mets teammates for the first time in his career.
- Matthew Leach of MLB.com placed Dodgers rookie James Outman at the cream of the crop for all rookies in the month of April, and that was before Outman hit two home runs on Thursday night, including the game-winning grand slam in the ninth.