Over the weekend San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley jammed his left thumb trying to break up a double play. Initially it appeared that he would simply miss a few days, but now it would appear as though there’s a chance that the team’s most valuable hitter may be in danger of missing Opening Day.
Headley is coming off of one of the top overall offensive seasons in Padres history, a year in which he hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 HR, 31 2B, and a league-leading 115 RBI. He reached base safely in 146 games, eclipsing a franchise record held by none other than Tony Gwynn. Headley walked a career high 86 times, finished 5th in NL MVP voting, was named NL Player of the Month in both August and September, and took home both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. For a Padres lineup without much offensive star power, Headley’s a key force in the middle.
Yet, Headley’s potential absence from the lineup spells trouble for the franchise for reasons beyond the lack of offensive punch. San Diego is bound to struggle early without their key hitter in the lineup which, depending on how much time he’ll miss, could be detrimental to any shred of hope they have for competing this season. However, with the Padres expected to struggle this season there has already been speculation that they could look to move Headley before July’s trade deadline. Him missing time could seriously hamper those plans.
San Diego has a pair of internal options should Headley hit the DL. Logan Forsythe and Jedd Gyorko were both expected to come into camp to battle for the team’s opening at second base. Forsythe, a strong defender, has been sidelined for the past two weeks with plantar fasciitis which has all but taken him out of the running. Gyorko, arguably the team’s top offensive prospect, appears to be the favorite to start at second. Both players have spent the bulk of their careers at third, meaning it shouldn’t be an issue asking them to move back over to the position, but it would subsequently create an additional hole in the lineup unless they are both fully healthy at the start of the year.