Interview: Chase Headley

WASHINGTON DC: Last year Chase Headley, 25, was easily the most anticipated Padres' prospect to be called up in a long time. A third baseman throughout his minor league career, with the exception of a few months in the outfield in Portland, he put together a career season in Double-A San Antonio in 2007, hitting .330/.437/.580 and was believed to be the team's best position prospect in years.

With Kevin Kouzmanoff ensconced at third base, the Padres moved Headley to left field that has met with mixed results. He has performed adequately defensively in the outfield but has yet to hit with the consistency that was predicted for him when he was brought to the big leagues in 2008.

Your home/road splits this year have been pretty dramatic. At home you are hitting .181/.280/.313 and on the road you are hitting 293/.354/.415 . So what is the difference?

Chase Headley: There is no question that PETCO is a tough place to hit, but I don't think that has had that big an impact on what my splits have been. I have just been inconsistent this year. I have had times this year when I've been good and bad. I think its just been how its been falling. I just need to be more consistent and things will take care of themselves.

If there is a worse place to hit than San Antonio it is hard to imagine. So how did hitting there, where you put up the best numbers of your minor league career, prepare you to hit at PETCO?

Chase Headley: It is not fun to play when you are there, but it does help you to prepare for when you get to the big leagues. It teaches you to understand how to hit line drives and keep the ball out of the air.

The hardest balls that you hit are line drives. Home runs come on balls that you just missed that end up being back-spinned and get up in the air. You are never really going up there trying to hit a fly ball, they just happen.

I remember how hard you worked defensively to become a third baseman, how hard is it now when you occasionally go in there now?

Chase Headley: It is very tough. In my opinion, it is harder going from the outfield to the infield as compared to the other way around. When you have been in the outfield for awhile, the game really speeds up in the infield. Its been tough for me, but you just try to do the best that you can and get some work in.

Another issue is the throwing because in the outfield you are using a big arm swing, in the infield you have to be shorter. Little things like that make it tougher.

Is it also difficult to get into the mental framework of the position, in that you once remarked in the outfield you have a lot of time to think about things out there as opposed to the infield which requires a little more concentration?

Chase Headley: The game does speed up and you have to react. In the infield, it's important to know exactly what you are doing pre-pitch. You need to know if the ball is coming to you where its going to go. In the outfield, you still want to do it pre-pitch, but you an see things develop a little more.

What adjustments do you see being made to you now that you have been in the league a little over a year?

Chase Headley: At the plate, it really varies because each team has a different idea of what they believe are your weaknesses. The next team you play may or may not agree with it. When you see pitchers and teams more than once, you get an idea of what they are trying to do. For example, San Francisco likes to pound me in. I know that when I face them they are going to come in hard, but other teams like to throw a lot of soft stuff away.

There is never one way a team is going to pitch you, when you make an adjustment they usually make one as well.

At this level, you have so much information as compared to the minors. How do you determine what information you do and don't want to use?

Chase Headley: There has to be a happy medium of what the other team is going to try to do to you as opposed to going away from your strengths. If you do a good job of hitting fastballs away and his strengths are fastballs in, you don't necessarily want to go away from what you do well. For me, I like to have an idea of what the pitcher is trying to do when he really needs an out, as when there are runners in scoring position.

I don't try to get too deep as for guessing pitches or looking for something, unless it is 100 percent that this is what he is going to do. I try not to worry about that because it gets you away from what you are trying to do.

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