AP Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Padres third baseman Chase Headley was encouraged Wednesday after taking batting practice for the first time since breaking his left thumb in a spring game.
Headley swung from both sides of the plate and said he felt no pain. He broke his thumb while sliding into second base trying to break up a double play on March 17.
"Today's the first day on the field. I don't think we're a long way off," said Headley, who previously had hit off a tee and in soft toss.
"I'm really happy with the way it felt and really happy with my swing for not having swung in a few weeks," he said. "I was really happy with the way the ball came off. But I think most importantly was not having any pain. We just checked another thing off toward being able to come back. We're really getting to the point where now it's like, 'Let's get you in a baseball mode, not just rehab mode.' That's good."
The San Diego star said he'll likely go on a rehab assignment in the minors before being activated. He declined to set an exact date for his return to the big league club.
"Chase is very encouraged and we're encouraged as well," manager Bud Black said. "His swings were good from both sides of the plate. Things are looking up."
Headley had a breakout season in 2012, hitting 31 homers with an NL-high 115 RBIs while winning his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. He and the Padres avoided arbitration when they agreed to an $8,575,000, one-year contract.
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