- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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PHILADELPHIA -- San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley strongly denied a report that he and former teammate Ryan Ludwick engaged in a clubhouse altercation with pitcher Mike Adams last season after Adams told the team's hitters to stop complaining about the dimensions at Petco Park.
In a story about changing ballpark dimensions that appeared Thursday on ESPN.com, Tim Keown reported that Adams "lashed out in a postgame rant," and that Headley and Ludwick were among the targets of his tirade. Keown reported the discussion escalated into a scuffle among the three players.
Headley, speaking to reporters before the Padres-Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, confirmed that Adams made his feelings known during a team meeting early in the season. But Headley denied that any argument ensued. San Diego manager Bud Black backed Headley's account, and Adams told Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com the report of a clubhouse scuffle was false.
"It's 100 percent inaccurate," Headley said. "I think if you asked anybody who was here -- or Mike, or Luddy -- they would say, 'I have no idea where that came from.'
"Mike spoke up at the meeting and said, 'We need to quit worrying about the ballpark and worry about winning.' There were no hard feelings or ill will. He was talking about something that he felt was distracting us from winning games -- not trying to call anybody out. I didn't have any problem with what he said."
ESPN stands by its report of the incident, which was recounted by multiple sources.
Ludwick, who is playing for the Cincinnati Reds this year, wasn't immediately available to comment.
Headley said he was "shocked" when he began to receive text messages and phone calls from friends in response to the report.
"It's disappointing to me, because it makes me look like a jerk if I'm getting in a fight with my teammates over a comment about the fences," Headley said. "That's not the type of person I am. And it's not fun to be a part of it. I just wanted to set things straight."
Petco Park's cavernous outfield dimensions have been a source of frustration among the team's hitters since the stadium opened in 2004. This year, the Padres are hitting .212 as a team at Petco, and they've hit seven of their major league-low 12 home runs in San Diego.
Adams told Durrett that he made his comments at the team meeting because he thought San Diego's hitters were taking the wrong approach and allowing Petco Park to get inside their heads too much.
"It was more about getting them to quit defeating themselves mentally," Adams said. "We know this is a mental game. If you're going to beat yourself mentally before you even get to the plate, of course you're not going to have success. That was what I was talking about.
"I didn't direct it at any one person. There was no scuffle. Nothing ever happened. I think they understood the message. I don't think it was taken the wrong way. Those guys knew I respected them enough to say that. I would never say anything degrading toward them and I think they respected me enough to understand the point I was trying to make. There was never a rift between anybody."
Headley said he and his teammates try to make every effort to refrain from talking about Petco Park because it's a "lose-lose" situation. Nevertheless, the numbers show that Headley has been a completely different hitter at home and on the road since joining the Padres in 2008. Headley is a career .230 hitter with a .658 OPS in San Diego, and a .303 hitter with an .814 OPS on the road.
"It's tough," he said. "You don't try to talk about it, and that's easy to do that when you're winning. But when you're losing, it gets talked about. We try to keep it out of the clubhouse as much as we can, because it's out of our control."
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