The San Diego Padres will be without superstar third baseman Chase Headley
to start the 2013 season. Headley, 28, has a small fracture on the tip of his left thumb and is expected to miss the entire month of April. Although the injury doesn't require surgery, the Padres will be without their best offensive player for several weeks.
The 2012 Silver Slugger award winner hit .286/.376/.498 last season for San Diego, while also hitting 31 home runs and posting a 7.5 fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above replacement) - good for the fourth best WAR among all National League players last season.
Headley injured the thumb during a Cactus League exhibition game against the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend. He was attempting to break up a double play when the injury occurred and the San Diego training staff originally diagnosed the injury as a "jammed thumb". However, after further tests and x-rays, it was revealed Headley suffered a small fracture in the thumb.
For the Padres, they have a few options to choose from as far as replacements at third base. Prospect Jedd Gyorko was expected to break spring training camp as the everyday second baseman, however, he could play third base until Headley is ready to return. Gyorko, 24, has split time in the minor leagues between second base and third base, appearing in 223 games at third base over his three year minor league career.
In addition to Gyorko, San Diego could also use James Darnell, Cody Ransom, or Logan Forsythe
at third base. All three players have appeared at third base over their careers at different times. In spring training this year, the Padres have used the following combinations at third base to start the game (number of games).
Out of all the players listed above, Logan Forsythe figures to be the favorite to play third base while Headley is out, unless the team moves Gyorko to third base. However, Forsythe has appeared in just eight games this spring due to plantar fasciitis, but the team says he'll be ready by Opening Day.
With San Diego without the services of Headley to start the season, the lineup takes a huge power hit (obviously). Without Headley, the Padres will rely on Yonder Alonso
and Carlos Quentin
for power, although Quentin is dealing with a knee injury of his own. Here's how an Opening Day lineup could look for the Padres when they open the season on the road against the New York Mets and left-handed starting pitcher Jonathon Niese.
From a fantasy standpoint, the good news is that Chase Headley won't require surgery on the thumb (as of right now). However, he's expected to miss at least the month of April, and could miss some time during the month of May. As I've stated in previous Clinical Notes
articles, any type of injury to the arm/hand/wrist is always concerning when talking about power production from a player. Hopefully this injury doesn't become a nagging injury that lingers the entire season, as that would be disastrous for fantasy owners who drafted the third baseman. As of right now, the projections and potential to miss at least of month of play have knocked Headley down to the bottom of Tier 2 Third Baseman Rankings
, but that could change if he suffers any setbacks.