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Headley gets season under way in LA

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LOS ANGELES -- Exactly one month after fracturing the tip of his left thumb, Padres third baseman Chase Headley made his 2013 debut on Wednesday night, going 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in a 7-2 win over the Dodgers.

Headley, who led the National League in RBIs (115) a year ago, was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list before the Padres wrapped up a three-game sweep.

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"We're very excited for him to be back," Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso said Tuesday.

To make room for Headley on the roster, the Padres placed center fielder Cameron Maybin on the 15-day disabled list with an impingement of his right wrist. Maybin could be fitted for a splint, Black said, and could miss more than the allotted 15 days on the disabled list.

Maybin, who is hitting .091 in 33 at-bats, was scheduled to be in the starting lineup Tuesday, but was a late scratch. San Diego manager Bud Black indicated after the game that Maybin's right wrist, which has troubled him in the past, was sore.

Headley, who won an NL Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove Award last season, appeared in four games with Class A Lake Elsinore of the California League. He had one hit in three at-bats on Tuesday and played five innings at third base. He was 3-for-12 in the four games.

"I felt like I accomplished what I needed to there and the next step was to face big league pitching. I'm very comfortable with where I'm at," Headley said.

Now, the Padres (4-10) are getting back a player who was fifth in the NL MVP vote in 2012 and had one of the top all-around seasons in franchise history. One thing is for certain; Headley won't put pressure on himself to succeed right away.

"You got to trust the work you put in. You want great results right from the start, but you have to realize this game is meant to be played over a long period of time," he said. "Even if the results aren't there, I'm not going to panic."

Four players saw time at third base in Headley's absence -- Jedd Gyorko, Jesus Guzman, Cody Ransom and Alonso, who actually moved there mid-inning last week against the Dodgers. The four combined for five errors in 14 games.

"He's excited to get after it," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's such an integral part of our club. In our division, there are a handful of guys who really impact their club. Chase is that guy for us."

The Padres are still playing with 24 players after outfielder Carlos Quentin is three games into his eight-game suspension for his part in a benches-clearing incident Thursday against the Dodgers.

Getting Headley back will certainly help.

"One of the best things about it is sometimes you forget how much you love to play. When it gets taken away from you ... it's a reminder to enjoy it and enjoy everything you have," Headley said. "It's a time to reflect. I'm extra excited to be back now."

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

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