Chase Headley did not start at third base for the Yankees on Sunday. It was not a day off, though. It was his .154 batting average.
Last season, Headley hit .257 with 11 homers and 62 runs batted in and struggled defensively. “Chase did not have the year that we had hoped and expected last year,’’ general manager Brian Cashman said Monday, “and obviously we’re looking for a rebound, so that’s as simple as that.’’
Asked he is disappointed with Headley’s start, Joe Girardi said, “I think disappointed is a strong word. He’s been on base, he’s taking his walks [seven], but he’s not off to the start like a lot of other guys we hoped they would be, too. But that’s not unusual. I think people can make too much of 10 games. We played 1/16th of our season.’’
Headley wanted to play. “I’d rather be in there for sure,’’ he said. “I feel like every time I go to the plate, I’m going to get it done, I really do. I understand we got to go out there and we’ve got to produce to be in the lineup. Yeah, I want to play, but I get it. I’m not fuming with Joe or whatever for not being in there. I understand we got other guys that need to play, too.’’
On Saturday, Headley grounded out in the ninth with runners on second and third in a 3-2 loss to Seattle. He has four singles and two RBIs in 26 at-bats.
“I understand you have to produce in this game and I know my numbers haven’t been where I expect them to be or anybody else expects them to be,’’ he said. “By the same token, I feel good. I feel capable of going out and producing and I think I’m going to produce. It’s just at this point this year, it hasn’t been where I’d like it to be. I feel like it’s close.
“I got to start hitting the ball in the air, that’s one thing that I know, because with this shift and things like that, there aren’t many hits on the ground. If I get the ball in the air, you got the porch [in rightfield], you got a lot more things that can happen. Ground balls used to get through but they just don’t anymore.’’
Headley, who hit .192 in September last season, rejected the notion that his slump has carried into this year.
“I’ve done this a long time and I know what I’m capable of,’’ he said. “There’s no carryover when you have that six-month offseason. That’s irrelevant. I stunk last year for two months. We stunk at the end of the year collectively. We just weren’t hitting, but to say this slump is carrying over from last year, in my opinion, that’s completely irrelevant. This year is this year; last year’s last year.’’
Headley, 32, is signed through 2018. His career year came with the Padres in 2012 when he hit 31 homers, drove in 115 runs and hit .286.
“Do I think I’m going to do that every year now? No, I don’t think that,’’ he said. “But I do think I’m somewhere in the middle of where I was then and where I am now.’’
Headley has had a back problem in the past but said that no longer is an issue. “There’s nothing physically, there’s nothing mentally that I’m worried about that I can’t be that player,’’ he said. “And I know I’m going to be that player.’’