Headley puzzled by defensive woes

Yanks third baseman leads Majors with 11 errors

Headley puzzled by defensive woes

OAKLAND -- The theory of a defensive slump is one that Chase Headley subscribes to, though the Yankees third baseman can't explain why there is one dogging him at the hot corner.

Headley allowed a Ben Zobrist chopper to go through his legs Friday, opening the door for a four-run Athletics third inning in the Yanks' 6-2 loss at the Coliseum. It marked Headley's 11th error, just two shy of his single-season career high.

"I know what type of player I am defensively; my entire career, I've been a good player," Headley said. "It's obviously been tough for me so far this year. But I'm going to keep working at it, grinding at it, and it'll get better. It has to."

When Headley was acquired from the Padres late last July, general manager Brian Cashman said that the team's scouts internally evaluated Headley as just an "average" defensive third baseman. That became an oft-repeated punchline among observers as Headley made numerous excellent plays down the stretch.

The way the first two months of this season have gone, Headley would settle for average right about now. His 11 errors lead all big league third basemen, having come mostly on the throwing side.

"It's hard to say [why]," manager Joe Girardi said. "We saw him play great defense for us last year, and he's struggled some."

Headley said that his back -- which was problematic late in his San Diego tenure -- has not been an issue. He believes he has cleaned up the throwing, which gave Mark Teixeira plenty of work at first base, but now the glove has become a problem.

"I really don't have any explanation for any of it," Headley said. "It's never happened to me before and I know I'll get through it. It's frustrating that it's causing us to lose games, but it's not for a lack of effort or lack of attention to detail, I can tell you that."

In the case of Zobrist's chopper, Headley said that he saw it fine off the bat and was thinking about turning a double play, but he had his glove up expecting a bigger hop that never came. Billy Burns scored on the play, Billy Butler followed with a run-scoring double and Stephen Vogt slugged a two-run double off Yanks lefty Chris Capuano.

"It's not what I've done in my career, it's not what I'm going to do going forward, but that's where we are right now," Headley said. "There's nothing I can do to fix that, I've just got to keep going forward, working hard, and make the play the next time."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.