Headley determined to step up leadership role

Third baseman excited to fill void left by departed, retired veterans

Headley determined to step up leadership role

NEW YORK -- At some point this year, some of the younger Yankees will need to hear a message from one of the team's veterans. Chase Headley says that he intends to be the one speaking up.

With the Yankees having relocated stars like Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller and Brian McCann to new clubhouses in the past six months, Headley believes that he can be an important presence as the team begins to count on its younger players.

"I am excited about the opportunity to have a little bit more leadership in the clubhouse," Headley said. "We had tremendous leaders on this team last year and obviously the years before that, but we had some older guys, and I felt like I needed to be a little more hands off in some of the things I said."

Though general manager Brian Cashman has suggested that the captaincy could have been shelved with Derek Jeter's departure after the 2014 season, the team has leaned upon experienced voices like those belonging to Brett Gardner, McCann, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira over the past two years.

"Now that some of those guys have moved on, I'm excited to be able to be a little bit more vocal and speak my mind a little bit more in a positive way to hopefully help these guys reach their potential and help us reach our potential," Headley said.

Headley excited for 2017 season

While Headley says that he is looking forward to Spring Training, there was a point this offseason when his future appeared uncertain. The Yanks gauged the trade market for the 32-year-old switch-hitter, who batted .253 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs in 140 games last year.

Cashman said that he ultimately decided not to go through with a deal, and Headley didn't feel an explanation was necessary.

"I don't get upset about it," Headley said. "I don't think, 'Man, I'm mad at the Yankees, they're trying to trade me.' There's none of that. They're trying to put the best club that they possibly can in the near term and the long term together. They're going to do what they feel is best for that. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it."

Headley huddled with hitting coach Alan Cockrell at Yankee Stadium last week and said that he is continuing to work on tweaks in the batting cage, particularly from the left side, as he looks to ward off the slow start that dented his 2016 numbers. Headley had no extra-base hits through his first 25 games, then batted .269 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs from May 9 on.

"Trying to get a couple of hits in April would be great," Headley said. "That's something that I've looked at, and I'm going to continue to look at and make sure that there wasn't anything that I did or didn't do in Spring Training. Hopefully I'll be mechanically a little bit better and that will lead to better results in April."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.