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Headley may have solved conundrum

Headley may have solved conundrum

SEATTLE -- Chase Headley didn't need to glance at his batting average when facing left-handed pitchers to know it was bad. But the San Diego left fielder went ahead and did it anyway.

"I would say maybe a month ago, I saw the splits and it was ugly [hitting] right-handed," said Headley, who was hitting .185 against lefties at the time. "I just knew I needed to buckle down on it."

It appears that extra time in the cage and working with Padres hitting coach Jim Lefebvre is starting to pay off, as Headley, a switch-hitter, is batting .273 in June against left-handed pitchers.

With the Padres in the middle of a stretch where they'll face a left-handed starter in seven of nine games, Headley only figures to get plenty of more looks at lefties. He will see one on Thursday [Jarrod Washburn] when San Diego concludes its series against Seattle.

Headley was bothered to no end prior to June, because as a natural right-handed hitter, he knew that has fared better and could certainly hit lefties at a better clip than he was.

"I've been working consistently in the cage to get better at it," Headley said. "I think what happened was in Spring Training I was pretty good right-handed and not very good left-handed, so I buckled down left-handed and forgot about right-handed.

"Then it kind of flip-flopped. But it's been paying off. I've got the feel back to where I'm comfortable."

Headley has hit both of his two right-handed home runs this month and has just two strikeouts in 22 at-bats.

"It's getting better. ... He's making better contact and has had better overall cuts," Padres manager Bud Black said. "In his professional career, he has had a ton more left-handed at-bats. From a power perspective, I think there is more power in his right-handed stroke."

Overall, Headley is hitting .250 this season with four home runs as a left-handed hitter and .207 with two home runs as a right-handed batter. Last season, Headley's splits were more to his liking, as he hit .276 as a right-hander and .265 as a left-hander.

And now he'll see Washburn on Thursday and then two more left-handers when the team opens a three-game series in Texas on Friday.

"For me, that's been nice to have," Headley said. "It's tough when you go an extended amount of time and you don't see many left-handed pitchers. To get reps both ways, for me, is important."

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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