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04/01/2013 12:22 PM ET

Staying connected, sharp priority for Headley

NEW YORK -- It wasn't so much despair that Chase Headley felt when he missed 39 games with a broken finger during the 2011 season.

It was more like desolation.

"I felt invisible," Headley said.

That's why the Padres' third baseman -- who will miss most of the opening month with a fractured tip of his left thumb -- said he will be more conscious of injured teammates moving forward.

April 1: Mets 11, Padres 2
W: Niese   L: Volquez
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"It completely changed the way I treat other guys on the DL," Headley said on Monday. "It's not that I completely ignored them. But you realize when you're on the DL how much it helps when a guy says hello to you or asks you how you're doing.

"I'm trying to be sensitive to the fact that when guys are on the DL, you don't want them to feel like I felt."

Headley said he specifically asked if he could be on this season-opening road trip, because he wanted to maintain a connection with his teammates and coaches.

"I want to be there for the guys and do as much as I possibly can to help. I want to feel like I'm part of the team and am a part of Opening Day," Headley said.

Two weeks removed from injuring his thumb sliding into second base in a game in Arizona, Headley has had one X-ray on the thumb and will likely get another on April 8, when the team returns to San Diego.

"It will be three weeks, and they say between three and four weeks is when I can expect to see some healing," Headley said.

To this point, Headley has been able to lift weights, take one-handed-hitting drills in the batting cage and cardiovascular work, the third baseman actually took some ground balls before Monday's game against the Mets -- sort of.

Using a left-handed first baseman's glove, Headley took soft ground balls before the game with his left hand -- he's wearing a splint on his thumb -- wrapped around his back. The point, Headley said, is to keep his footwork sharp.

"There are a lot of things I can do," Headley said. "When I'm cleared for baseball activity, I want to hit the ground running."

Gyorko has cheering section in MLB debut

NEW YORK -- There figured to be more than just a sliver of Padres fans watching the season-opener at Citi Field on Monday.

The loudest figured to be friends and family of rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko, who slotted fifth in his big league debut.

"I think it's over 30 right now," Gyorko estimated before the game, noting most were from his home state of West Virginia. "There's going to be a few of them here."

The anxious moments, Gyorko said, will probably be reserved for his family.

"Obviously, I'm excited for this but I've never been a real nervous person," Gyorko said. "... But I'm sure the butterflies will pop up at some point."

While manager Bud Black didn't officially inform Gyorko that he made the 25-man roster until late last week, it's been assumed that Gyorko would make the team since the day he arrived in Arizona for the start of Spring Training in February.

Gyorko had more at-bats (74) than any other player during spring play. He hit .257 with four home runs and 12 RBIs while seeing a lot of time at second base. A third baseman by trade, Gyorko started to play second base last season in the Minor Leagues.

"Getting the reps at second base was huge for me," Gyorko said. "I think there were some questions if I could play over there. And it was good to get familiar with the pitchers I'll be facing during the season."

Gyorko became the 28th rookie in club history to start on Opening Day. Since 1995, only six rookies have started for the team on Opening Day -- Ramon Vasquez (2002), Xavier Nady ('03), Khalil Green ('04), Josh Barfield ('06) and Kevin Kouzmanoff ('07).

Cashner, Bass give Friars length in bullpen

NEW YORK -- There's any number of ways to build a bullpen, but Padres manager Bud Black has opted to carry two long relievers on the roster to begin the season.

"It's nice to have that length," Black said. "There are times throughout the course of the year when you want that. We felt, at this point, it was good to have both of those guys on the roster."

Black was talking about right-handers Andrew Cashner and Anthony Bass. Both were in the running for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, a job that ultimately went to righty Tyson Ross.

Cashner was behind the rest of the pitchers in camp in February coming off his recovery from surgery on his right thumb after suffering a lacerated tendon in December. But he quickly made up ground to get in position to make a run at the fifth-starter spot.

The Padres envision Cashner as a starter, and they could option him to the Minor Leagues during the season to get stretched out -- much like they did a year ago -- but for now, they like him in the bullpen.

"There are times when if you have a big enough lead and you only have to use two pitchers. Or, if there is an extra-inning game, you have length on the back end [of the bullpen]," Black said.

Black said at this point, "Cashner could easily throw four innings and Bass could easily throw three."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.