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J-Hey! Heyward makes awesome catch, throw to help Braves win

Big League Stew

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Jason Heyward(notes) thrilled audiences of all ages by clubbing a home run on opening day in his first major league at-bat.

But can the Atlanta Braves rookie All-Star field his position?

You bet your sweet Dave Justice rookie cards he can.

Even though Heyward went 0-for-4 in his first game since a thumb injury knocked him out of commission June 26, his defense made a big difference in the Braves' 2-1 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.

Heyward threw out Casey McGehee(notes), who was trying to go from first to third on a single. Brewers manager Ken Macha was right — it was ill-advised for McGehee to try it. But what a throw!

Heyward also made a running catch just before hitting the fence near the foul line to rob McGehee (of course) of a double, or more.

It was also ill-advised for McGehee to hit the ball where Heyward could get it.

Watch the catch on Yahoo! Sports Minute

Checking Heyward's defense on Fangraphs, he's strong. Among right fielders, he checks in with an UZR/150 of 16.1 — good for fourth in the majors. That means he goes and gets it.

"Defense wins games and defense allows good things to happen," Heyward said.

The impact of Heyward hitting the fence jarred him briefly and probably scared the dickens out of manager Bobby Cox, who ran out with trainer Jim Lovell and even umpire Joe West — he must have been wondering what the holdup was — to see if Heyward was OK.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"They asked me questions," Heyward said. "I started telling him, 'My name is Jason Heyward. I'm the right fielder for the Braves.'

"It took me a second to figure out what day it was, because it's hard enough to keep up with that anyway. 'Today is Thursday. We've got a day off on Monday.' Then [the trainer] just asked me some math questions. I knew where he was going with it right away."

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Heyward said he remained on his back for a minute because he didn't think it would be smart to stand up too quickly.

He is wise beyond his 20 years and 11 months.

Jair Jurrjens'(notes) solid 6 2/3 innings, along with solo home runs by Martin Prado(notes) and Chipper Jones(notes), also contributed to the Braves improving to 31-10 at Turner Field.

Jurrjens just pinned the win on Heyward.

"Give this game to his defense," Jurrjens said. "He won the game with his glove today."

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