TORONTO -- The imitation game has been a key to Chase Headley's early defensive success. While they don't know it, stars like the Rangers' Adrian Beltre and the Orioles' Manny Machado have helped the third baseman straighten out his issues at the hot corner.Infield coach Joe Espada said on Wednesday
TORONTO -- The imitation game has been a key to Chase Headley's early defensive success. While they don't know it, stars like the Rangers' Adrian Beltre and the Orioles' Manny Machado have helped the third baseman straighten out his issues at the hot corner.
Infield coach Joe Espada said on Wednesday that he had Headley review video of several third basemen around the league. They took that information to the back fields in Spring Training, where they focused on mimicking the footwork and throwing motions that those players use.
"We watched guys where I thought he could imitate in a way," Espada said. "I think that's paid off so far. We're continuing to work on it daily, just a couple of reminders to stay short and stay in sequence. Machado, Beltre, how they replace their feet, how they're able to use multiple arm angles on their throws."
Headley won a Gold Glove Award at third base in 2012 with the Padres, but he was open to suggestions after committing a career-high 23 errors last season. The 31-year-old Headley also studied the Rockies' Nolan Arenado and Rays' Evan Longoria, trying to pick up pointers.
"There's a long ways to go, but mechanically I'm in a much better place than I was for a good portion of the year last year," Headley said. "I'm going to keep working at it, keep really trying to stay on top of it, but I feel like that's an asset for me usually.
"Obviously, last year it wasn't. It's nice to start this way rather than having a tough start."
The reward has come not only in completing the routine plays, but also in the form of a gem or two. Headley made a terrific diving stab to steal a hit from Kevin Pillar in the Yankees' 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday, then made a nice charging throw on Russell Martin's ninth-inning dribbler.
"That's one thing about Chase; he's always looking for help," Espada said. "I showed him and I asked him what he thought. He said, 'Wow, Joe.' He didn't know that this was going on. Especially with a veteran player, my job is just to show them some things and ideas.
"He's been receptive and he's been working on it. So far, it's paying dividends, which is great."
Brian McCann said that he expected to be available off the bench to pinch-hit or catch on Wednesday, one day after having blood drained from his left big toe following a fifth-inning foul tip. Austin Romine caught in McCann's place, and McCann said that he feels "fortunate" not to have sustained a fracture.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that if anything were to happen to Romine, he would likely use infielder Ronald Torreyes as the emergency third catcher.
"He doesn't know that, but that's probably who I'd put back there," Girardi said. "Don't tell him."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.