After year of heartbreak, Segura sees better days ahead

Following death of son during tough 2014, Brewers' SS primed for big season

After year of heartbreak, Segura sees better days ahead

PHOENIX -- Shortstop Jean Segura arrived at Maryvale Baseball Park on Tuesday bearing news of a better finish to what was an otherwise nightmarish 2014 season.

Segura married a Venezuelan girl named Kellen soon after the season, and the couple welcomed a son, Juan Diego, who was born in Milwaukee in October. His family is with him in the Phoenix area for Spring Training, as is Segura's father, Carlos, who is visiting the United States for the first time and is eager to see his son play in the Major Leagues.

"I'm trying to forget about what happened last year," Jean Segura said. "This game is so mental. No doubt about it. You can have the best ability in the world, but if you're not mentally right, you're not going to have success."

In the span of a few months last year, Segura turned down a contract extension that reportedly would have guaranteed $38 million, missed part of Spring Training with a sore right shoulder, slumped at the plate and tumbled down the Brewers' batting order, needed stitches under his right eye after he was struck in the face by Ryan Braun's swinging bat, and received the devastating news in July that his young son had passed away in the Dominican Republic.

"I'm never going to forget my son," Segura said, "but God gave me another one."

By season's end, he had batted .246, with a .289 on-base percentage and only 25 extra-base hits in 513 at-bats. The year before, when Segura made the National League All-Star team, he batted .294 with a .329 OBP and 42 extra-base hits.

So Segura went home to the Dominican Republic and continued playing baseball. He used at-bats in winter ball to work on a mechanical adjustment at the plate, going away from the flat-footed stance which had begun producing ground ball after ground ball to the left side of the infield, and began to lift his front leg to produce some load.

The change was suggested last season by Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and then-hitting coach Johnny Narron. Segura spent time viewing video of some of baseball's best hitters, including Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, and had his best month in September -- a .319 average and .364 on-base percentage.

"It's been working for me," Segura said. "I'm going to continue to do it."

Segura, who insists he does not regret turning down the Brewers' contract offer last year, said, "the time is going to come" to get paid if he returns to form this season.

"Now, I'm going to play," he said. "I'm going to forget about everything that happened last year. This is a new year for me."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.