SAN DIEGO – At first, Chase Headley’s power surge seemed like a mirage.
He was going to cool off, right?
As summer dragged on, Headley only got hotter.
Going into Tuesday’s games, the San Diego Padres’ third baseman had 27 homers and an N.L.-leading 102 RBIs, extending his career bests in both categories and helping to breathe some life into a team that’s out of contention but is playing much better than during its dreadful 19-40 start.
In past seasons, Headley was criticized for not putting up the kind of numbers expected of a third baseman.
He came into this year with 36 homers and 204 RBIs in parts of five big league seasons. His previous bests were 12 homers and 64 RBIs in 2009, his first full big league season.
The switch-hitter seems to be making up for lost time with a more aggressive approach and adjustments to his swing that are helping him cope with spacious Petco Park.
“It’s gratifying,” Headley said. “Anytime you face adversity it makes it sweeter when you’re able to overcome that. I don’t run from the type of player I was. It wasn’t for lack of effort, I can tell you that much. I know the guys in this clubhouse at least respected the way I went about it and did everything I could do to help us win.
“Having said that, I knew what I wanted to do and I hadn’t done that. To kind of turn that corner and hopefully be able to sustain that going forward, it means a lot.”
Headley vowed to be a more consistent run producer this year, then went on a tear. His 19 homers and 60 RBIs since the All-Star break lead the majors. That stretch alone has eclipsed the four homers and 44 RBIs he had in 2011, when he missed 39 games with a broken finger.
“He’s always been a good player, but since Aug. 1 he’s been a dominant player,” general manager Josh Byrnes said.