Headley was benched on Thursday at Baltimore and on Friday against the Red Sox before re-joining the lineup, as manager Joe Girardi suggested that a pair of days off might help him clear his head. Headley accepted the opportunity to work in the cage, but said that he would have preferred to have been in the lineup.
"I feel like for me to play the way I'm capable of, I've just got to play," Headley said. "I've just got to go out and play and when you're not playing, obviously you're not going to come out of a slump. I understand where he's coming from and respect that decision."
Headley entered play on Sunday batting .169 (13-for-77), and hitting coach Alan Cockrell has suggested that one issue has been the Yankees facing so many left-handers early in the season; Headley is batting just .128 (5-for-39) against southpaws, though he is a .257 career hitter from that side of the plate.
"It's been a strange year," Headley said. "I think my numbers are probably better left-handed which is crazy, because I've felt unbelievable at the plate right-handed this year and just haven't gotten any hits that way. Who knows? I've gotten to the point where it's time to look forward and stop worrying about that. You can't go back and change that."
During the Yankees' recent trip to Texas, the extended slump prompted the 31-year-old to take a rare dive into the advanced statistics database. What Headley found there offered him encouragement, for the most part.
"My line-drive percentage [22%] was down, and obviously that's the goal every time, to hit a line drive," Headley said. "For the most part, the swing and miss percentage, the chase percentage, all that stuff has been better or the same [as his career norms]. Exit velocity has been pretty similar.
"It is encouraging on one hand but it's also like, let me find something that I can fix and now I can move forward. It's a long season and it's been a really crummy first month. Hopefully I have 130 good [games] left."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.