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Sweeny: Yankees' Headley Talks Early Postseason Exit, Improving His Defense

By Sweeny Murti
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The Yankees made the playoffs last year. It only lasted nine innings, losing to the Astros 3-0 in the AL wild-card game. But it was the playoffs.

I figured the players would recognize the hard work it took to get beyond 162 games, even if they didn't make it past 163. Then I spoke to Chase Headley on Wednesday.

"Last year, got a chance to get to the playoffs, and it lasted nine innings. How did that sit with you over the winter?" I asked him.

"Oh man, it was tough," Headley responded. "It almost feels like you didn't make the playoffs when it's that quick."

So there you go, Yankees fans. I know many of you felt the same way. Now you know Headley, who had never been to the postseason in his nine-year career, echoes your thoughts.

The conversation turned to how Headley could improve on his 2015 season. Headley and many other veterans struggled in the second half, which led to the Yankees' offensive struggles for much of August and September and eventually what little they saw of October.

Among the factors Headley considers is the potential that veterans wore down a bit.

"That time of year, everybody's worn down," Headley said. "Everybody that you're playing is worn down. If that (had) an impact, we've got to figure out a way for it not to be, because everybody's dealing with it."

The solution might be cutting back on some of the pregame workload during the season.

"Working smart and working the right amount and sometimes not doing so much that it catches up with you down the stretch," Headley said.

I then got around to asking about the elephant in the room -- at least the one in the room when speaking to Headley about 2015. The Gold Glove-winning third baseman in 2012 made a career-high 23 errors last year, 10 more than his next highest total in the majors.

Headley was open about it last year, and open about it again Wednesday when he talked about doing the work in spring training to fix the problem. He believes it starts with proper footwork and mechanics, and said he will spend plenty of time in Tampa working on it with infield coach Joe Espada.

The increased range in the middle of the infield with Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro should help Headley and Mark Teixeira at the corners. But range will not be how we measure Headley's defense in 2016. It will be all about the throws. The work will get done in spring training. But the results won't really count until Opening Day.

Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN

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