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Headley learning patience at plate

Headley learning patience at plate

SAN DIEGO -- It has been a week since top prospect Chase Headley was promoted from Triple-A Portland, which has given him ample time to dispense with such firsts as hitting his first Major League home run, as well as driving in his first run.

But six games and 24 at-bats into his current stay with the Padres, Headley is still looking for his first walk this season, something that has always been a strength of his game as he has moved quickly through the Padres' farm system.

"Walks go in spurts. You will get three or four in a couple days period, then you won't get one for a week," Headley said. "I've been in some deep counts. You're not going to walk as much here, guys throw more strikes. Being a rookie, I think they're going to challenge me a bit more in the strike zone, at least early in the count.

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"They're not going to let me walk my way on base."

In 2005, between his junior year at the University of Tennessee, short-season Eugene and Class A Fort Wayne, Headley walked 98 times in 128 games.

Headley had a .399 on-base percentage in 373 Minor League games, including two years when he walked more than 70 times in a single season. Last season, when he was named the Texas League MVP, the outfielder has an astounding .437 on-base percentage.

But so far, Headley hasn't drawn a single walk, which isn't a concern to him right now.

"When you start looking at walks and on-base percentage, I think you have to give that time. It's so streaky, at least for me. I would like a couple of walks at this point but it's not something I'm worried about," Headley said.

In his first game back with the Padres, Headley -- who appeared with San Diego in two stints last season -- saw six pitches in his first at-bat against Andy Pettitte on June 17 at Yankee Stadium before he struck out looking at a close pitch.

In his second at-bat, also against Pettitte, Headley fell behind 1-2 in the count and then took two balls before he singled to left field.

"I don't change my approach. My approach is looking for a good pitch to hit, no matter if it's the first pitch or the second pitch. If I get a pitch early in the count, something that I think I can handle, I'm going to take a hack at it," Headley said.

"I think there are certain situations where I'm going to be more patient. I think once we get back into playing the National League and into the West, then it will be important to see some pitches and see what guys have."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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