Headley reacquainted with hot corner
Kouzmanoff trade moves outfielder back to natural position
TUCSON, Ariz. -- It was after a week of Cactus League games this spring when second baseman David Eckstein shared a story that third baseman Chase Headley could certainly appreciate and empathize with.
"One spring, I remember that Troy Glaus didn't [field] a single ground ball," Eckstein said of his former teammate with the Angels.
Headley's return to his natural position after two seasons in the outfield got off to a slow start this year as, for whatever reason, ground balls seemed to go to everyone but him.
That's changed of late, though. Entering Tuesday's game against the Rockies at Hi Corbett Field, Headley had 21 total chances, seven putouts and 12 assists to show for what started as a slow spring.
"It's been nice to get some action over there. I hope every ball is hit to me so I can work on the different plays," said Headley, who has made two errors. "You can work as much as you want on the side field on going to your left, going to your right and back-handing balls, but game speed is what matters.
"Lately, I've gotten a lot more chances."
As far as Headley is concerned, the more action the better as he prepares for what will be his first full Major League season as a third baseman. The last time he played third for an entire season was 2007, in the Minors.
"It's pretty much what I thought it would be," he said of getting assimilated at third. "I knew I would be comfortable taking ground balls. I knew I would be able to adjust to it.
"But it takes a couple of weeks. The really hard ground ball [hit] at you, the backhand play, those take you a little longer. I anticipate getting stronger and stronger as I go. By the end of Spring Training, I'll be comfortable."
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Third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, who also works with the infielders, has been impressed with the amount of work Headley has put in at his old position and with some of his mechanical improvements.
"I think it's gone well. From the first day of spring, he's worked hard at it. In the games he hasn't had many chances early," Hoffman said. "I've been pleased with his footwork. He's been working on it a lot. The throwing mechanics will follow."
The January trade of third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to Oakland allowed Headley to slide back to his natural position. Headley isn't a stranger to third base, by any means, though he's only played 40 games there at the Major League level over parts of three seasons.
"The positive thing is, he's been an infielder before. He's just coming back to the old familiar things he's done," Hoffman said. "Now it's just a question of doing it at the Major League level. He'll get the experience this year of seeing the hitters, seeing our pitching staff. That's still all new to him right now."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.