From third base, he saw how Padres starter Jon Garland was pitching Mets rookie Ruben Tejada inside and how Tejada was getting out in front of the ball.
So when Tejada ripped a ground ball down the third-base line, with Rod Barajas on second and Jeff Francoeur on first with no outs in the second inning, Headley fielded the hot smash, stepped on third base and sent the ball around the horn for the eighth triple play in Padres history.
"Sometimes you can pick up the direction of a guy's swing and have a little bit of an idea [where he is going to hit it] with a certain pitch, and Jonny put the pitch right there and he hit it right at me," Headley said. "And you have to hit it fairly hard just to have a chance, because you got a long ways to go."
It seemed fitting that even the Padres' only highlight in a 3-0 loss to the Mets in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader would feel a little lackluster.
The nature of the play was so routine that an observer could have easily confused it for a tailor-made double play.
"I was looking over there thinking that it was going to be bang-bang, but we had him by a couple steps. It was almost anticlimactic," Headley said. "We need [first baseman] Adrian [Gonzalez] out there doing the splits just to make it feel right. It was definitely the most routine one I've ever seen."
It was the 10th triple play the Mets have hit into in their franchise's history, the most recent coming when Francoeur lined into an unassisted triple play August 23 against the Phillies.
This one was far less astonishing.
"I don't know if you can call a triple play routine, but [Headley] said that he anticipated it and it happened," Garland said. "He did exactly what he needed to do."
Tejada could only give credit where credit was due.
"It's part of the game," he said. "I tried to run hard, but they made the play on it."
The last time the Padres turned a triple play was on May 19, 1997. Pitcher Andy Ashby caught a line drive off the bat of Cincinnati's Eddie Taubensee before throwing to second base, where shortstop Chris Gomez made the second out and completed the triple play by throwing to Archi Cianfrocco at first base.
Kyle Maistri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.