Chase Headley quickly adapting to the Yankee way

Infielder has thrived since coming to New York in trade with San Diego
07/28/2014 10:09 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Chase Headley finishes off a double play against the Blue Jays.(AP)
While it wasn't quite Willis Reed returning to will the Knicks to victory in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, the image of Chase Headley popping out of the tunnel and into the dugout mid-game and introducing himself to his new teammates on Tuesday gave New York sports fans an inkling that a nice moment was in the cards.

Hours later, Headley's Yankees career began with a pinch-hit at-bat and later, after three fruitless plate appearances, a game-winning single that gave him his first hit, walk-off, and Gatorade shower in pinstripes.

Flash forward five days, and Headley's whirlwind first homestand as a Yankee concluded with another 1-for-4 performance Sunday - this time including his first homer in pinstripes, a solo blast in the fifth inning that was the first half of a back-to-back with Francisco Cervelli.

What ended up a loss to Toronto finished a 7-3 homestand for the team and a 4-2 first week for Headley, and despite the setbacks this weekend, he wouldn't have his introduction to the Bronx any other way.

"It's been a blast. I couldn't be happier to be here and be in a pennant race, and it's been fun," he said following Sunday's game. "Obviously it would've been better to win today, but we've been playing good baseball, and I think if we keep playing the way we have been, we'll be in good shape."

The Padres, Headley's old team, have not made the postseason since 2006 (the year before Headley made his major-league debut), and they have finished above .500 just twice since he burst on the scene, with one of those years being his eight-appearance "rookie" season of 2007.

So, forget about any Yankee Stadium mystique; for Headley, simply to come into an atmosphere where there are 40,000 fans every night watching their team scrap for a playoff berth is an energizer.

"This atmosphere is awesome, and I think that you are really able to draw on the energy from the Stadium a little bit," he said. "This time of year everybody's a little worn down and beat up, but to have that electric atmosphere here is a great thing."

Sunday's 1-for-4 brought Headley to .348 with one homer and three RBI as a Yankee, and since having an epidural in his back late last month to help alleviate pain from a herniated disc, the third baseman has hit .330 over the month of July.

Headley has two watershed moments as a Yankee under his belt already, but, after just a few games of standing directly next to Derek Jeter, he has also quickly adopted The Captain's infectious attitude of winning over everything.

"Hitting that home run was great; I don't think a lot about those things when they're happening because you're focused on the game, but I'm glad it happened," Headley said. "I wish it had happened in a game we won, but hopefully the next one will help us win a game."

Welcome to New York, indeed.

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