PEORIA, Ariz. — Like many baseball fans, San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley watched Friday night's World Baseball Classic game between Team USA and Puerto Rico intently.
Unlike many fans, Headley watched it in limbo. If USA won, he'd leave the Cactus League and join the WBC team for the semifinals in San Francisco, the replacement for injured David Wright. If USA lost, well, he'd stay put.
We know what happened by now. Despite an eighth-inning threat from the Americans, Puerto Rico triumphed. Headley could unpack his bags.
"Obviously I was looking forward to the opportunity to represent the country," Headley said Saturday morning in the Padres clubhouse, as the team got ready for a game with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"It didn't work out, so it's disappointing in one way. I'm sure for the guys who were directly involved, it was a lot tougher for them."
As he watched the game, Headley got that itch players get. He wanted to get out there and help his team — or, his would-be team.
"You could feel the energy through the TV almost," Headley said. "It was a great atmosphere, great game. Obviously I wish they'd have been able to put another couple of runs on the board."
You might think Padres manager Bud Black would be happy to keep Headley — his biggest hitter, the guy who smashed 31 homers and 115 RBIs last season — under the Padres' watchful eye in Arizona. But he's not.
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"Actually, I was hoping that would happen," Black said. "It would have been a great experience for Chase. It would have been great excitement for our clubhouse to see two of players play —Chase and [relief pitcher Luke] Gregerson."
Gregerson was already part of the USA's WBC team. He's expected to return to Arizona on Saturday, Black said.
"I'm disappointed from a national standpoint," Black said, "and personally for Luke and for Chase."
For Headley, the whole thing will go down as a false-start.
"Back to preparing for the season," he said.
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