Maddon: Heyward 'as good as I've seen him'

Maddon: Heyward 'as good as I've seen him'

ATLANTA -- After an injury-riddled first half of the season, Jason Heyward feels like he has turned a corner in his return to the Cubs' lineup.

Heyward has been solid since his July 4 return from a left-hand abrasion that sidelined him on the 10-day disabled list. He also missed time in early May with a right finger sprain.

"It is good to be back, and I am trying to take care of just being on the field and getting the most out of every day," Heyward said. "I am doing everything with a purpose and staying in tune with what I can do every night to make adjustments from pitch to pitch."

On the Cubs' current six-game road trip, Heyward entered Monday's series opener in Atlanta having hit .462 (6-for-13) with three extra-base hits and six RBIs. He also helped the Cubs score 27 runs in their three-game sweep of the Orioles over the weekend. Heyward entered Monday hitting .265 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 63 games played.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon credited Heyward's presence in the lineup and said that Heyward has helped deepen the team. Maddon also liked how Heyward's professionalism is helping to balance an already-stacked offensive attack.

"He is looking really good right now, and is as good as I've seen him swing the bat, personally," Maddon said. "He has always played that great level of defense. When you can hit him in the lower part of the batting order right now, then you have a chance to score up and down, and I kind of like that."

Heyward's bases-clearing triple

Heyward returned to play the Braves, his former club, at SunTrust Park. Entering Monday's game, the Georgia native had a .289 average against the Braves in his career.

"It is good to see family and easier for them to come and see me play here than having them go out of town," Heyward said. "But it is just another game that we are trying to win."

The Cubs are chasing the first-place Brewers in their quest for their second-consecutive National League Central crown. They also entered Monday 5 1/2 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race as well.

"I like where we are at right now, and I think we are coming into the second half rested," Maddon said. "Guys are getting over injuries, and we haven't run anybody into the ground, as the pitchers are in good order, too. It is a lot to like right now, and every team goes through that good moment. Hopefully we have gone through the bad one and we have a lot to look forward to [for the remainder of the season]."  

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta and covered the Cubs on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.