ATLANTA -- In the midst of one of the most impressive stretches of his young career, Jason Heyward left Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez no other choice but to move him up in the batting lineup. Heyward batted second in Tuesday night's game against the D-backs, and will remain near the top of the order if he continues to produce like he has over the past three weeks.
"I just wanted to put our best three hitters right now together, guys who are getting on base and swinging the bat," Gonzalez said. "I think we've scored enough runs to win games. That hasn't been an issue. But [Heyward] sure has played well the last seven or eight days."
With the D-backs starting right-hander Daniel Hudson on Tuesday, Gonzalez positioned Heyward in the second spot, directly between leadoff hitter Michael Bourn and Martin Prado. This marked the fourth time this year he had batted in one of the lineup's top three spots.
But unlike the previous occurrences, Heyward might find himself sticking near the top of the lineup. He entered Tuesday having hit .403 with five home runs, a .431 on-base percentage and .806 slugging percentage in his previous 17 games.
Beachy staying positive following surgery
ATLANTA -- Brandon Beachy returned to Turner Field on Tuesday determined to remain positive as he prepares to travel the long road to recovery from Tommy John surgery.
"I'm going to do everything I need to do, and everything they tell me to do to try to get back. I'm looking forward to pitching without pain again," Beachy said.
While Beachy has been known to remain somber even after completing what appeared to be promising starts, he seemed upbeat and happy to be reunited with his teammates for the first time since undergoing the surgical procedure last Thursday. The heavy cast he has worn over the past six days will be replaced on Wednesday with a brace.
Beachy views this as the first of many milestones he will encounter during a grueling rehab process that will last nearly an entire calendar year. He likely will not be ready to rejoin the Atlanta rotation before the latter portion of next June.
"There are several guys who have been through it," Beachy said. "I'm just going to take my time, make sure I do everything right."
During his time as the Marlins manager, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez saw Josh Johnson return from this same surgical procedure in 11 months. While there will not be a push for Beachy to also make an early return, Gonzalez said the Atlanta pitcher does possess a work ethic that rivals Johnson's.
"The guys who do well after this procedure are the guys who have good work habits and do all of the rehab right to the T," Gonzalez said. "I think he's that kind of guy. I expect a full recovery from him 10-11 months down the road, because he is the right guy to get through that."
Beachy was leading the Major Leagues in ERA and positioning himself for his first All-Star selection before his right elbow started to become a concern during his June 8 start against the Blue Jays. Concerns started to turn to fears when he returned to the mound on June 16 and experienced greater and more alarming discomfort. Five days later, he underwent surgery.
"I'm going to cheer these guys on, watch and wish I was out there," Beachy said. "But there's no use sitting around, feeling sorry for myself."
Gonzalez has no plans to alter starting rotation
ATLANTA -- After having a chance to digest the struggles Randall Delgado and Mike Minor endured in Boston this past weekend, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez returned to Turner Field on Tuesday and revealed that he is not currently planning to make any changes to his starting rotation.
"The last thing you want is to create panic," Gonzalez said. "It's not like you're running [Jim] Palmer, [Mike] Cuellar and [Pat] Dobson out there. You're going to go through some growing pains. You've got to stay patient with these young pitchers and keep going."
While there is certainly a chance the Braves will attempt to land a starting pitcher before the Trade Deadline, it does not look like they plan to have Kris Medlen replace either Delgado or Minor in the rotation this week.
Medlen's value in the bullpen is enhanced by the uncertainty surrounding both Jonny Venters, who is still battling to find some consistency, and Eric O'Flaherty, who was dealing with some left elbow discomfort just two weeks ago.
"Meds is a team guy. I think he'll do whatever we ask him to do. If we need him to be the closer or to hit third, he'll do it," Gonzalez said. "He's got that mentality. We're still going to see what's best over the next couple of weeks for our team."
The Braves' starting pitchers entered Tuesday ranked 13th in the National League with a 4.21 ERA. Minor ranks last among the National League's qualified pitchers with a 6.14 ERA, and is tied with Philadelphia's Joe Blanton for the most homers allowed (18).
Still, while limiting opponents to a .200 batting average and .297 on-base percentage in his first three starts of the month, Minor gave the Braves some hope that he could prove to be an asset as the season progresses. The 24-year-old left-hander is still just 37 starts into his still-promising career.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.