PEORIA, Ariz. – Each year, Spring Training welcomes new and old faces and for the Padres, a familiar face returns to third base.
Chase Headley was traded in December back to San Diego after spending three and a half years as a Yankee.
He admits returning to Spring Training in Peoria felt like déjà vu.
“To be honest, it was a little strange coming back in the clubhouse,” said Headley. “You know you never really expect to come back but it’s been great. A lot of the same staff are here, a lot of new players, a couple of guys that I’ve played with but it’s exciting. I’ve had some great times in San Diego and I’m looking forward to hopefully a few more.”
The 33-year-old is among the oldest players on the team and fellow veteran Chris Young credits Headley’s longevity in the game to his work ethic.
“Chase is a great teammate,” said Young. “He’s a great guy, he’s a very cerebral player, knows how to play the game and very attentive, very smart. Hitter, runner, third baseman, he’s just a solid all-around player and a good guy as well.”
Younger players admit admiring Headley comes easily because of his character.
“Really what I’m trying to do right now is just get to know guys and let them know I’m here for them, I care about them and when the opportunity arises to give them some information that they know it’s coming from the right place.”
“The leadership and wisdom is unbelievable,” said Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski. “I was talking with Headley a little bit, just picking his brain about just Spring Training and the season and just getting through and all that and staying healthy and man, he’s like an encyclopedia.”
Headley spent the first seven and half years of his career in San Diego but his future with the organization remains uncertain. With the possibility of another trade looming, he says he plans to make the most of his time here.
“There’s a lot of ability in here and a lot of potential and we’ve got to find a way to speed that up a little bit,” said Headley. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here so I’m not interested in going through a year where we’re not trying to compete so that’s going to be my message to the guys and I think in talking to other guys they expect to play well as well.”
That renewed expectation is one fans hope to see play out this season.