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Headley chasing less with simplified swing

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Less than two weeks ago, Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave Chase Headley two days off to rework his swing during the third baseman's month-long slump at the plate. He was batting .147 (11-for-75) from May 2 through May 26.

"Sometimes as a hitter you just get a little out of whack mechanically, and I thought he was a little out of sorts," Girardi said. "I thought he was expanding the zone a little more, so I gave him a couple of days just to try to get back on track."

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NEW YORK -- Less than two weeks ago, Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave Chase Headley two days off to rework his swing during the third baseman's month-long slump at the plate. He was batting .147 (11-for-75) from May 2 through May 26.

"Sometimes as a hitter you just get a little out of whack mechanically, and I thought he was a little out of sorts," Girardi said. "I thought he was expanding the zone a little more, so I gave him a couple of days just to try to get back on track."

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With his coaches, Headley decided he needed to spread his legs farther apart while swinging, something he hoped would keep his head from moving too much as he waited for, and began to swing at, pitches.

Less head movement, in theory, helps hitters see the ball better and have better plate discipline. Better plate discipline leads to more walks and better contact because batters are swinging mostly at pitches in the strike zone.

"I wanted to cut down the excess movement that I have," Headley said. "I was going too far forward, more from the right side than from the left side, but even a little bit from the left side. I've been trying to cut down on that as well. Just simplify a bit and get my head to quit moving as much."

Headley added: "Limiting your head movement and things like that is not going to hurt your plate discipline."

So far, Headley's heightened plate discipline has led to more productive plate appearances.

In the nine games since his return to the lineup (May 29 through Wednesday), Headley is batting .250 (8-for-32) with a .351 OBP.

Through 20 games from May 2-May 26, Headley walked just once while striking out 27 times and had a 29.1 percent chase rate, according to Statcast™. In nine game after returning, Headley's chase rate dropped to 20.7 percent, and he walked five times.

His weighted on-base average (wOBA) on pitches in the zone has increased from .186 in the 20 games before his break to .252 since, according to Statcast™.

Although he said he's feeling better at the plate, Headley pointed out that nine games is a small sample size in a 162-game season, saying that he still has "a ways to go" before he's back to where he wants to be.

Even so, Headley said he's proud of the short-term improvements, which he credited to the adjustments he made.

"I think you try to control what you can control and make sure you're as fundamentally sound as you can be," Headley said. "I'm making some good adjustments, and that's where it starts."

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Chase Headley