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Headley won't negotiate extension during season

Padres third baseman flattered by team's position but doesn't want distraction

SAN DIEGO -- Padres third baseman Chase Headley said on Thursday that he "loves playing in San Diego" and was flattered to hear that ownership wants to keep him here long-term.

He just doesn't want to discuss a contract extension during the season.

"We made it abundantly clear [before] that we didn't want to talk about it during the season," Headley told by phone before the Padres faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I didn't think that for me and for the team that it was good to get caught up with all of this during the season."

On Wednesday, executive chairman Ron Fowler said he has given general manager Josh Byrnes the go-ahead to begin negotiations with Headley on a long-term contract that, Fowler indicated, would make him the "highest-paid player in club history."

"We want him here. … It's a priority to keep him here," Fowler said.

The Padres and Headley's representation have not had significant discussions about a long-term deal since before the regular season.

Headley, who is coming off one of the best all-around years in club history, won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2014 campaign. Headley won his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards and finished fifth in the National League MVP Award voting last season.

Headley is making $8.575 million this year and is the second-highest-paid player on the team behind left fielder Carlos Quentin ($9.5 million).

An article in Wednesday's U-T San Diego indicated that the Padres would make Headley a multiyear offer before "midseason."

But, again, Headley reiterated that he has no interest in negotiating during the season.

"It's flattering they feel the way they feel about me. I love playing in San Diego, I love the fans," Headley said. "But I just don't think now is the time to get involved with this. That's it. If there's an opportunity to engage after the season, so be it.

"I didn't want to have to deal with the fallout I'm dealing with."

Headley, who has been with the organization since he was drafted in the second round in 2005, has said on several occasions that he's enjoyed his time with the Padres, that they've treated him well and he would like to continue playing here.

"I do love San Diego and I hope there's a point we can revisit this," Headley said.

Headley, who missed the first 14 games of the season while recovering from a fractured tip of his left thumb, went 2-for-4 with a home run in the Padres' 6-2 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday in Chicago. He's hitting .280 with three home runs and six RBIs in 13 games.

The Padres return to Petco Park at 7:10 p.m. PT on Friday to face the D-backs in the opener of a six-game homestand.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
Read More: San Diego Padres, Chase Headley