New York Yankees’ third-baseman Chase Headley hasn’t been consistent at the plate, but he has consistently been showered with boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd who have grown tired of his ineptitude at the plate. Inept may be a bit too kind; Headley has been downright putrid this season.
Prior to finally breaking out of a terrible slump on Thursday, Headley’s last home-run occurred on Sept. 12, 2015 and lasted a span of 170-at bats. That type of drought makes any baseball fan cringe. It was not only Headley’s first homer of the season but also his first extra-base hit.
“It’s a good feeling,” Headley said. “It’s been a long time. It felt like it’s been a really long time. To get the first one out of the way was good. Good start, but I got to keep it going.”
Asking Headley when he last went yard was met with an interesting, yet honest, response.
“I don’t even want to know,” he said. “I know it was a long time ago.”
“It’s been pretty crummy all year, to be honest,” he said. Through it all Headley has maintained confidence that the hits, and homeruns, will return. It just took an awful longtime for them to return to his plate production.
“My swing works,” he said. “I’ve seen it work and I know that it works. I just haven’t had it for a while.”
“There was never a question in my mind that I was going to come out of it – and that I will come out of it,” Headley added.
But the celebration needs to be capped because Headley is still, despite this being a positive story, downright terrible. Headley is batting .194 (ouch) with a OBP of .283 (double ouch) and although he is serviceable in the field, if he doesn’t start producing at the plate the Yankees may be forced to turn the page.
“I’m very confident in who I am as a player,” he said. “But you have to produce. When you’re playing here and the team’s not playing well, you know you have to get it going. The confidence in the short term wasn’t as high as it usually is, so it was frustrating. But never have I thought, ‘I’m not going to hit anymore.’”
In the midst of a 4-year deal worth around $13 million annually, Yankee fans have grown tired of his play, and for good reason, but Headley was hard on himself throughout his drought. He is well liked in the clubhouse and has a good demeanor, even when the going gets really tough.
“The times that were toughest for me was when I came up in a situation where the game was on the line or I had a chance to come through with a big hit and wasn’t able to do it,” he said. “Move a runner, drive somebody in from third with less than two outs; those hurt as much as anything. When the team’s not winning and not scoring runs, those for me are probably the most frustrating.”
Headley stated that throughout this entire ordeal his teammates have been supportive and were elated when he finally broke out.
“I’ve seen that a number of times here,” Headley said. “I think they’ve been as supportive and helpful in getting through a tough time as they possibly can be. It’s not an easy place to play when you’re not playing well. These guys have been tremendous and I’m very appreciative for them.”
Headley also credit Reggie Jackson, aka “Mr. October”, for helping him with his swing.
“I was hitting so many ground balls to second base; I was trying to fight to stay inside of it,” he said. “When you’re doing that, you’re not really taking aggressive swings. I was finally able to find something to help me clear my hands, get my hands out in front of me. When you do that, you don’t have to think about where the ball is going or where you’re trying to hit it. You just let it go.”
For now, Headley has wiped the slate clean and has a positive foundation to build upon. But if things go awry again, you can’t help but assume that the Yankees will look for other options and rightfully so, they cannot afford to take this journey with Headley again.