MILWAUKEE -- Sometimes life trumps losing streaks. Saturday was one of those sometimes for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Players spent the morning trying to focus on an ostensibly big game against the rival Cardinals while hurting inside for shortstop Jean Segura, who was informed following Friday's series-opening loss that his nine-month-old son, Janniel, had died suddenly in the Dominican Republic.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and center fielder Carlos Gomez, who served as club spokespersons on the matter, had no details about the circumstances that led to the boy's passing. Segura traveled home to the Dominican on Saturday morning and was placed on the bereavement list. The Brewers recalled utility man Elian Herrera to take the open roster spot.
"I have two kids," Gomez said, "and this broke my heart."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny echoed the Brewers' comments.
"I heard just a little about it. I can't even fathom that," said Matheny. "We hurt for him, for sure."
Segura's return to the team is open-ended. A player can remain on the bereavement list for a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven.
"He's emotional, he's young," said Roenicke, who fought his own emotion while breaking the news to reporters. "That's why when I tell you I don't know what's going to happen with him, I worry about him.
"He'll just have to make a decision where he's at and what he feels like. It's different with everybody. Some guys might feel like, 'Hey, I need to get back and I need to play,' and some other guys just can't do it."
Segura just turned 24 during Spring Training and is in his second full Major League season. The Brewers acquired him two years ago in a non-waiver Trade Deadline deal with the Angels, and he has started each of the past two Opening Days for Milwaukee.
Gomez and other Brewers players planned to reach out to Segura during the All-Star break to remind him he was in their thoughts.
"If it was my kids, I probably would stay home. I'm not coming back," Gomez said. "I don't know how he's going to react to coming back. If he's coming back, we're going to take care of him and help him to relax and enjoy life again."
Segura's mother, Maribel, and an uncle were visiting Segura in Milwaukee this week, which provided some degree of comfort to Roenicke. Segura's mother was the first to receive word of the tragedy, and she passed it to one of the Brewers' wives, who passed it to her husband after a 7-6 loss to the Cardinals. That player was tasked with breaking the news to Segura himself.
When Gomez emerged from the showers, he saw Segura crying at his locker.
It was not clear to Roenicke whether Segura's son had been ill before Friday, but Segura had checked in on the child before the game.
"[Segura's son] was sick. 'Seggy' was on the phone, I know, before the game [Friday], and they thought [his son] was OK and getting better," Roenicke said, adding, "I didn't know what to say to him other than give him a hug and tell him we're here for him."
Gomez said the mood in the Brewers' clubhouse before Saturday's game was predictably down. The team had just lost for the 10th time in its last 11 games before learning about Segura's devastating personal loss.
"This is a day we feel like everybody wanted to stay home," Gomez said. "But it's a job. We have to finish. Come here for him and play hard and get a 'W' today."
Gomez said the Brewers intended to make Segura "feel like he's part of the family here. All my teammates are part of my family because I spend more time with my teammates than my own family. Every time one of my teammates has something like that, they feel bad, I feel bad, too. When he comes back, I want to be like his brother, at his side every time. I can't imagine when you lose a child, what's going to be in your mind."
The heartbreak provided some context during a most difficult stretch of baseball.
"This is a game we're playing," Roenicke said. "It's certainly not as important as life, but we know it's important to a lot of people in the community. These guys get that. They'll be OK."