ARLINGTON, Texas — During spring training, Chase Headley said his fielding issues a year ago were an aberration, something the third baseman was confident he’d correct this season. Though the sample size is relatively small, nearly three weeks into the season, Headley has done just that.
“It’s nice to see at least some early returns on some of the work that I did,” Headley said before Tuesday’s 10-1 loss to the Rangers, in which he had a scheduled night off after playing seven straight days.
Headley, though off to a poor start at the plate — .157, no homers, two RBIs — has been very good in the field. He’s committed one error in 16 games, a far cry from a season ago when he had five through the first month (22 games) on his way to a nightmarish 23-error season.
Shortly after the season, Headley, who had been a solid to very good fielder much of his career, went to work on correcting what went wrong. He and infield coach Joe Espada hit the video room and diagnosed bad footwork as the primary culprit.
“With my right foot, I was stepping behind my left foot, like crossing,” said Headley, who won a Gold Glove in 2012 with the Padres. “Now what I’m trying to do is think, toe-to-heel, to basically shorten that up. And that allows my arm to work in sync with my feet. So what would happen last year was my footwork would be in a place where the ball was ready to come out and my arm was either a little bit slow or a little bit out in front.”
Headley has been able to make the long, accurate throws far more consistently this season.
“You’ve seen him throw the ball much better,” Joe Girardi said before Tuesday night’s game. “And everything always starts from the feet on up, and he’s done a good job. He made some really tough plays [Monday] night. I think he’s played real ly well.”
Headley said his start to the season has been “somewhat satisfying,” but he’s taking the long view. When it comes to declaring his fielding woes of last year a thing of the past, it will take more than three weeks to do that.
“I try not to get too caught up in a small sample size, either good or bad,” Headley said. “I think the game’s meant to be judged over a long period of time. But when you’re doing things right and you’re getting the results, certainly it builds confidence and just kind of a belief in what you’ve done.”
Given the year he’s coming off, a good start in the field beats the alternative.
“Any time you work hard on something and you get some results, you’re going to be happy with it,” Headley said. “It’s good that it started that way. We have a long ways to go, but I think it’s encouraging to start on [defense] much better than I did last year.”