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Headley hopes to play for Padres beyond 2014

Third baseman, who is set to become a free agent in '15, has discussed extension

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Third baseman Chase Headley, who is set to become a free agent after this season, was asked on Monday if he thought this might be his last Spring Training with the Padres, the only organization that he has ever played for.

"I certainly hope not," Headley said.

Headley, who will make a team-high $10.525 million this season, is still hopeful he can remain in San Diego, even though there are currently no ongoing discussions about a contract extension.

"Both sides have had enough discussion to understand that there's interest from both sides. I really love San Diego, and they really like me as a player," Headley said. "I certainly don't want to close the door on that."

In 2012, Headley set career highs in several offensive categories and led the league in RBIs (115) while posting a 6.2 WAR. But last season, Headley was saddled by a left thumb injury and knee injuries and slumped to a .250/.347/.400 line and a 3.4 WAR.

Last May, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler said the team was prepared to offer a multiyear deal to Headley. But Headley reiterated what he had told the team previously, that he had no intention of discussing an extension during the season.

Headley said Monday that he would take that stance again, not willing to let his contract status be a distraction in the clubhouse and to the team.

"I think that's best for everybody involved. It's not fair to the guys in the clubhouse to have anybody's attention on anything but trying to win and do your best for the team," Headley said. "For now, I think we focus on that, go out and win. Hopefully we can re-engage when the season is over."

He was asked if there was a chance that discussions could take place between now and Opening Day on March 30.

"As of right now, no," Headley said. "I don't necessarily anticipate that happening. But I don't want to put my foot down and say nothing is happening."

There's no telling what Headley could make if he hits the open market after this season, especially if he bounces back offensively. He's a plus-defender at third base, he can take a walk and, as a switch-hitter, has power from both sides of the plate. And he's proved durable, appearing in 156 or more games in three seasons (2009, '10 and '12).

"I'm going to bet on myself," Headley said. "I think I'm a better player than I showed last year."

Headley indicated that the last time the two sides talked, there was a sizeable difference between what he thought was fair and what the team might be willing to offer him.

"I don't want to get too much into specifics … but certainly there's some ground to be made up or we wouldn't be having this discussion," Headley said. "But I think both sides understand where the other side is coming from. Right now, maybe it's not the right time to find that common ground. But I know from our conversations with the other side that it's not a shut door."

Manager Bud Black has no concerns about how Headley will handle himself during his walk year.

"He's in a good spot to handle this year and everything that goes with that," Black said. "From the media perspective, he's fine. He's learned a lot the last couple of years, even going back to the Trade Deadline of 2012 when his name was out there, when it was out there this winter. As time goes on, you become conditioned to these conversations. He understands where he is now."

Headley is just not sure where he'll be next year.

"I've been honest. I love San Diego. I love the guys in this clubhouse, our coaching staff, there's some very strong feeling toward those guys," Headley said. "You love those guys and would hate to see that come to an end. Hopefully it doesn't."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
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