SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 6: Chase Headley #7 of the San Diego Padres points skyward after hitting a solo home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park on September 6, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
In 2012, Padres 3rd baseman Chase Headley looked like he had blossomed in to a perennial All-Star that a team can build a lineup around.
In 2013, he looked like a serviceable option at the Hot Corner that a team can add to a lineup to support the All-Star it's trying to build around.
In 2014, Headley has been asked what went wrong. A lot.
"That's the million-dollar question is trying to figure out what went wrong," said Headley. "You go back and evaluate the things you did last year. You look at the swings, you look at the preparation, you look at the training the season before, and you make adjustments. That's something you do every year, regardless of if it goes well or if it goes poorly."
The other question is, which is the real Chase Headley? The 2012 version that finished 5th in the MVP balloting or the 2013 version that was was much closer to his pre-breakout season averages?
Chase thinks he can be the former.
"There are some things that I found," said Headley. "Some mechanical things that we're going to work on a little bit this year. I think a big thing was just having a chance to get healthy."
Chase injured his thumb sliding in to second base during Cactus League play and missed the first 14 games of the year (in which the Padres went 4-10). The larger issue was a nagging knee injury that required post-season surgery. People around Headley know it hampered his production, but he never complained about the pain he was in.
"I don't want those ailments last year to be an excuse because everybody goes through tough things. But, having said that, it's great to come in healthy and feel like your body's in a place you want it to be. Hopefully I can keep it as healthy as I can this year."
Chase, whose defense did not suffer nearly as much as his offensive performance last year, says he is 100 percent healthy entering Spring Training. His health is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes the San Diego's offensive health concerns.
Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Kyle Blanks are all coming off seasons shortened (if not completely missed) by injury. If (and this is admittedly a big "if") all their pieces can stay on the field, Headley believes he can taste the post-season for the first time since 2006, when he and the Lake Elsinore Storm reached the California League playoff.s
"This is the most talent we've had since I've been here. It's very exciting. There's a confidence, there's a quiet expectation that we expect to go out there and win."
Headley and the Padres agreed to a one-year contract worth $10.5 million during the off-season. He will be an unrestricted free agent after 2014. If the season does not go as well as everyone in Peoria is hoping, Chase will likely be involved in the great cat-and-mouse game that is the July trade deadline.