Joe Girardi had seen enough when it came to Chase Headley.
After pinch hitting for the struggling third baseman in the ninth inning of Friday night’s loss to the A’s, Girardi put Headley on the bench Saturday afternoon and sounded likely to put him there Sunday as well.
“I just feel like Head is in that situation where he is just frustrated and trying too hard, so I’ll give him a day or two [off],” Girardi said.
Headley entered Saturday in a 6-for-61 slide, with zero walks and 23 strikeouts in that stretch. He had two hits in his last 27 at-bats.
“It is what it is,” Headley said after Saturday’s game. “Just grind through it and when I get back in there, hopefully be a little bit better. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and relax.”
After getting off to an excellent start, Headley has a .228/.299/.367 slash line, three homers and 20 RBIs. He had a .307/.402/.489 slash line as recently as May 2.
“You feel for him because I know how bad Head wants it and how hard Head works, and you can see there’s frustration there,” Girardi said. “He’ll come out of it. As I said, I thought his at-bats have been pretty good, but sometimes you get frustrated and it’s good to have a day off and to work on some things.”
Girardi did not discount the 93-mph fastball Headley took off his right knee, courtesy of Reds reliever Drew Storen, on May 8 as a factor. Going into that game, Headley had a respectable .278/.366/.444 slash line.
“It could,” Girardi said. “He got hit in the right knee. I think his at-bats have been better lefthanded. Maybe. You never know. We’ll give him a day or two to work on some things and get back on track.”
Rightfielder Aaron Judge had an interesting day in the field.
With a run already home and a man on third with two outs in the sixth, he saved a run for CC Sabathia. When Trevor Plouffe lifted a pop-up behind second, Starlin Castro got a glove on it, but the ball popped out and went up in the air. Judge, who was coming in on the play, caught it on the rebound for the third out.
“Couple of times [we worked] on that on Field 3,” Judge joked, referencing one of the workout fields used during spring training at Steinbrenner Field. “Just glad I was able to make a play there for C.”
Less funny was Chad Pinder’s foul pop toward right to lead off the seventh. Chris Carter and Judge both went after it and, as Carter was about to make the catch, Judge swooped in to catch it. As he did, Carter’s left forearm caught the 6-7, 282-pound Judge in the face, though it was the 6-4, 245-pound Carter who crashed to the ground.
“Just glad we were both OK and we were able to get an out,” Judge said.
Carter smiled afterward. “Thought I was going to catch it,” he said, “and suddenly I was down.”
Bird to Tampa
Greg Bird, who took full batting practice Saturday, is slated to head to Tampa on Sunday. The plan is for Bird, who has been on the disabled list since May 2 with a bone bruise in his right ankle, to play in extended spring games early in the week, then start a rehab assignment, he said, with high Class A Tampa on Thursday.
“I feel really good,” Bird said. “You have to keep progressing and keep feeling good, so that’s the key. The ankle feels good.”
Chapman plays catch
Aroldis Chapman played catch for the first time since being put on the disabled list on May 14 with rotator cuff inflammation. He threw 25 times from 60 feet. “Everything feels good,” he said through his translator.
The plan is to gradually increase the intensity of his throwing sessions, but Chapman said he does not have a concrete schedule for those progressions or, for that matter, a possible return date. “It’s a slow process,” he said.
Chapman likely still is a minimum of two to three weeks from returning.