NEW YORK (AP) — Trying to boost one of the weakest lineups in the American League, the New York Yankees acquired third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres on Tuesday for rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael De Paula.
Headley arrived at Yankee Stadium right around game time Tuesday night and was in uniform in the dugout shaking hands with his new teammates by the top of the second inning. He came off the bench in the eighth and delivered a game-winning single in the 14th to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
"Sometimes these things happen," Headley said. "I had a chance earlier to get it done. There's a lot of nerves, but then I thought, why wouldn't this day go this way?"
Now that his whirlwind first day in pinstripes is over, Headley will become the everyday starter at a spot that's been a question mark for the Yankees all year following the season-long suspension of Alex Rodriguez.
"I don't think we're getting a big thumper," general manager Brian Cashman said. "But I do think we're getting an upgrade and a professional at-bat."
The 30-year-old Headley, drafted by the Padres in 2005, can become a free agent after this season. The switch-hitter was batting .229 with seven homers and 32 RBIs but has a .339 average with six extra-base hits in 13 games since July 4. He was a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner two years ago, when he had a huge second half and hit .286 with 31 homers and an NL-leading 115 RBIs.
He moves from a cavernous ballpark in San Diego to a homer haven in the Bronx, and the Yankees think that can help him.
"You look at his last month, it's been really productive. He's swinging the bat pretty well," manager Joe Girardi said. "We feel that he's in a pretty good place."
Cashman said he thinks an epidural injection that Headley had toward the end of June has a lot to do with his recent improvement — and Headley agreed. He had been playing through a herniated disk in his back.
"Once he had the epidural, it seems like it's had a huge impact," Cashman said. "He's a rental for the next two months."
As part of the deal, the Padres will pay $1 million of the $3,968,443 remaining on Headley's $10,525,000 salary this year.
Unable to reach a long-term contract with San Diego, Headley has long been mentioned in trade talks.
"It's nice that it's over. It's nice that I know where I'm going to be," he said. "There were no hard feelings in San Diego. I loved every second I was in San Diego. By the same token, I think it was time to go. ... Hopefully I can get back to being the kind of player I have been."
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