Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks with a broken jaw after being hit by a pitch from Mets starter Jon Niese in New York on Wednesday.
With two outs in the sixth inning, former All-Star Heyward was struck by a 90 mph fastball and immediately fell to the ground amid groans from the crowd.
Head trainer Jeff Porter and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez ran out to attend to Heyward, who was then seen by Mets doctors before being taken to a Manhattan hospital to have X-rays and further tests.
Two fractures were revealed in his jaw and Howard has been told he could miss the rest of the regular season as he will need between four and six weeks to recover.
"It was tough," Niese told reporters after the Braves beat the Mets 4-1 at Citi Field. "I wanted to elevate a fastball right there, and then it didn't really slip out of my hands, but it kind of just ran in on him.
"Obviously no intent, but I just felt bad. It's every pitcher and every hitter's worst nightmare. I just hope he's OK."
Heyward, an All-Star in 2010, entered Wednesday's game hitting .254 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 94 games for Atlanta this season.
"He never lost consciousness," Gonzalez said. "He was talking the whole time when he got hit with the ball.
"Before they took him to the hospital, he popped his head into the dugout and said 'bye' to some of the guys. I got a chance to talk to him briefly after that."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Simon Evans and Nick Mulvenney)