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Chase Headley going through a fielding slump

New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley runs

New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley runs on his two-run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on Monday, May 25, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

OAKLAND, Calif. - Like every major-leaguer, Chase Headley has gone through slumps in his career. But nothing like this.

The difference, the third baseman said, is that the slumps usually occur in the batter's box.

"Sometimes things go that way; you're going to go great, you're going to go bad," he said. "[But] usually it's more offensively than defensively. But that's where it is right now."

Headley, a solid fielder the majority of his career, made his major league-leading 11th error in Friday night's 6-2 loss to the A's.

Ben Zobrist hit a ground smash in the third inning that Headley thought was a double-play ball. But it flattened out -- rather than coming up, as Headley anticipated -- darting through his legs and contributing to a four-run inning.

"I'm expecting the ball to come up so I have my glove turned up," said Headley, a Gold Glove winner in 2012 with the Padres. "It's unfortunate because it's a big part of the game and it cost us a bunch of runs. It's a play I feel I have to make regardless of whether it takes a hop or not."

Headley sighed. "Another play that I probably should have made," he said.

As the number of those plays have increased this season, Headley, who committed nine errors in 135 games last season, has become more and more perplexed.

"I know what type of player I am defensively," he said. "My entire career, I've been a good player. It's obviously been tough for me so far this year. But I'm going to keep working at it, grinding at it, and it'll get better. It has to."

The constant errors have Joe Girardi at a loss as well. "It's hard to say [why]," said Girardi, whose club entered Saturday night with 36 errors, third most in the American League. "We saw him play great defense for us last year, and he's struggled some.''

Headley hasn't been a star at the plate to this point, entering Saturday night with a .246/.302/.400 slash line, six homers and 22 RBIs. The numbers are not horrific, but they're also not the kind that make up for the constant mistakes in the field.

After Friday night's game, Girardi -- who at times provides cover for a fielder by talking about the need for a pitcher to "pick up" a position player who commits an error -- didn't try to downplay the impact of Headley's miscue. "I don't know if he lost it or what happened," he said. "But obviously it opened up an opportunity for them . . . The extra out hurt us."

The nightmare start in the field came out of nowhere. "Coming out of spring training, I felt great," he said. "I don't know if I made an error in spring training [he did not]. I probably wish I would have. It's just baseball. That's not an excuse. I have to correct the situation."

Early this season, the majority of his miscues came on throws, something he thinks he cleaned up to a degree in recent weeks. But that's when fielding the ball became more of an issue.

"It's uncharacteristic. I really don't have any explanation for any of it,'' he said. "It's never happened to me before and I know I'll get through it. It's frustrating that it's causing us to lose games, but it's not for a lack of effort or lack of attention to detail, I can tell you that.''

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