Headley determined to improve upon career year
NL Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award winner at third sees room for growth in '13
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Last year, Chase Headley won National League Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards, led the NL in RBI's and pieced together one of the best all-around, single-season performances in Padres history.
Headley has his sights set on being an even better player in 2013.
The star third baseman arrived in Peoria early with a checklist of things that he wants to be better at for the upcoming season, aspects of his game he believes can still be improved.
"There are always things you're working on," Headley said Saturday.
In Headley's case, you have to look pretty hard to find them.
After a blissful 2012 season during which Headley hit 31 home runs, knocked in 115 runs and was probably the best player in the game from Aug. 1 on, the 28-year-old is prepared to use his time in Arizona to tighten up some things defensively while also cutting down on his strikeouts.
"Defensively, there are a couple of plays, specifically, I want to work on -- going to my glove side, working on the chopper double-play," he said. "It seems like watching film from last year that I bobbled that a few times or didn't get rid of it as quick as I wanted to."
At some point in the near future in camp, Headley will head over to the back field to spend time on specific infield plays with third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, who works with the Padres' infielders.
"As I was pulling the ball out of my glove, my footwork wasn't the same," Headley said. "I wasn't as consistent. I want to try to throw the ball the same way with the same velocity every time, so the second baseman gets used to how I throw the ball.
"If I get a bad grip or fumble with it a little, it throws his timing off."
In winning his first Gold Glove Award, Headley went from a -2.9 UZR (ultimate zone rating) in 2011 to 6.0 in '12, according to Fangraphs.
Offensively, Headley would like to be the kind of hitter all season that he was after Aug. 1, which means cutting down on his strikeouts. Once the July 31 trade deadline passed, Headley hit .318/.389/.632 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs, winning the NL Player of the Month Awards in both August and September.
"Offensively, I want to be the kind of the hitter I was in the second half of the year," Headley said. "That [includes] making sure I'm aggressive from the first pitch, right when I get in the box, every single time.
"In turn, I think that will lead to fewer strikeouts. I'm not thinking about just lowering my strikeouts, but thinking about being more aggressive."
Headley feels like something clicked with his swing a year ago, something that's repeatable, from both sides of the plate.
"I think I learned a lot about what makes my swing work last year," he said. "Now, the biggest thing is to become the type of player I was last year -- consistently -- and figure out what I have to do to do that year in and year out."
As far as projecting where Headley will finish statistically, no one is concerned with that. Not Headley, not his manager Bud Black or hitting coach Phil Plantier. While projections of regression seem entirely fair, Plantier isn't buying it.
"It's fun to watch a guy figure it all out and piece it together," Plantier said. "I don't see any reason why this isn't going to be normal production for the rest of his career. Hitters evolve ... good and bad. Chase is doing things in a way right now where I think he'll be able to sustain a version of this for a lot of years.
"This is not a fluke. It's very real."