Braves fan growing up, Hale gets first call to Majors
Righty reliever hails from Marietta, Ga., big fan of Justice, McGriff
PHILADELPHIA -- The first call was an easy decision for David Hale to make.
"The first call I made was to my father," the newest member of the Braves' bullpen said. "I talked to him [David] and my mom [Mary] and she started to cry. She's probably still crying."
That's not unusual for a young player's first callup to the big leagues, but Hale's story is much more than just a callup. Hale grew up in nearby Marietta, Ga., a fan of the Braves and players David Justice and Fred McGriff. He saw more games at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field than he can remember. He could also count current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez as one of his neighbors.
"In Spring Training he told me he would see me at Publix or Home Depot," Gonzalez said before Friday night's game at Citizens Bank Park. "He said he was too afraid to come up and say hi. Who's too afraid to say hi?"
Hale has much bigger aspirations these days, especially with a chance to show off his wares to a Braves team headed for a second consecutive playoff berth. Hale, who didn't start pitching until he was a senior in high school, went 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA for Gwinett. Even though he was used primarily as a starter -- 20 of his 22 appearances were as a starter -- he'll at least begin his big league stint in the bullpen.
"I'm just taking it all in," said the Princeton graduate, who already had his first responsibility as holder of the bullpen snack bag, which was sitting on his clubhouse chair. "I came down on the bus because I didn't want to mess with anything. It's great to step out there, that's three decks in this stadium, not what we had [at Gwinnett]. I just want to get on that mound."
"He's an extra arm for this season," Gonzalez said. "But he can also do things for us to get a look at and prepare for next season."
Heyward meets with docs; no timetable on return
PHILADELPHIA -- Jason Heyward had a positive meeting with doctors about his broken jaw Friday and will meet with them again Monday before he takes his next step to returning to the Braves' lineup.
The 24-year old has already been hitting off a tee, but yearns for more as he recovers from a broken jaw suffered Aug. 21 on a pitch from Mets starter Jon Niese.
There is no timetable for his return and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the young outfielder will need to see game action before rejoining the team. Instructional League begins Sept. 16 and games start one week later, which could be perfect timing.
"I don't have any expectations," Gonzalez said. "The report was he looked good. There is a chance he'll rejoin us on Monday or Tuesday in Miami.
"I don't know how much hitting we want him to do [without supervision]. Off the tee is fine, maybe some cardio, but I really don't know."
Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.