Yankees 3B Chase Headley has struggled since being acquired by the Yankees in 2014, and knows he can play better than he has over the last two and a half years.
"I know there's more in there," Headley told Mike Mazzeo of the Daily News. "I know that I can produce more than I have."
Following the 2014 season, the Yankees gave the switch-hitting third baseman a four-year, $52 million contract. The next year, Headley hit .259 with only 11 HRs and 62 RBIs while committing 23 errors in 156 games.
The third baseman also got off to a miserable start in 2016, which helped contribute to New York's horrid start in the standings. The former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner was hitting just .147 on May 3 as the Yankees were 8-16.
"No, I haven't lived up to my own expectations as a Yankee," said Headley. "The first year I was atrocious defensively. And that was probably the most frustrating part of my career, because you expect some variation offensively. But defensively, I've always been pretty steady and take pride in not bringing my hitting to the field, so that was frustrating. And then obviously last year my start was so bad that it really contributed to digging us a big hole.
The veteran infielder was able to bounce back and hit .268 the rest of the way, finishing the season with a .251 batting average to go along with 14 HRs and 51 RBIs in 140 games.
"I got a couple of things to fall into place, I started taking good swings and I began to relax," said Headley. "I got into a good place mechanically and with my confidence."
After two and a half seasons in New York, Headley is fully aware of the fans' expectations for both him and the rest of the team. While some may be intimidated playing in one of the largest markets in the country, Headley welcomes the passionate fanbase.
"If I perform the way I'm capable of, that won't be an issue," said Headley. "They're passionate fans, and I appreciate that. It's not always fun to hear it when you're not playing well, but it's New York, so the fans care. They cheer you when you're playing well, so you accept the criticism and the noise that comes when you're not performing."
The Yankees currently have one of the top farm systems in baseball, headlined by 20-year old Gleyber Torres. While he understands that Torres, along with several other quality infield prospects, are knocking on the door, Headley is not worrying about anyone besides himself.
"I have a high standard for myself. I know what my goals are and my expectations are as a player," said the veteran. "There's always somebody coming. That's the nature of the game, so I don't think it's worthwhile for anybody to worry about that."
It is good to know that Headley understands the importance his performance means to the club, but it is the actual production on the field that will dictate fans' response. Regrettably for Headley, he will not get the benefit of the doubt because he consistently gets off to slow starts at the plate and the catch-up process he brings in the summer doesn't carry enough weight for fans.
Unfortunately, Headley's spring training has been more or less uninspiring with a couple of clutch hits mixed in. With just under two weeks to go in the preseason, it is essential that Headley begin to show positive signs at the plate with hopes he can carry it into the regular season.
For the Yankees, another issue with poor performance from Headley becomes a ready replacement for him. The system's top third base prospect, Miguel Andujar, has never played above Double-A, and the utility infielders do not project to everyday third basemen. Headley is not expected to be the star of this team, but he has to perform well for the entire season with little chance of infusion coming elsewhere.