Phillies

Jean Segura hopes better lifestyle choices equal better season in 2020

Jean Segura hopes better lifestyle choices equal better season in 2020

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies infielder Jean Segura bared his soul a little before Monday's first full-squad workout at Camp Clearwater.

He talked about the mental effect that his connection to teammate Andrew McCutchen's season-ending knee issue had on him last year. He talked about the difficulties that moving around the batting order around caused him. He talked about giving up whiskey and eating better this winter, about losing 14 pounds, all in hopes of having a better season in 2020.

"I have to enjoy what I do," a noticeably trimmer Segura said. "I think last year, I didn't do it too much because there was a lot of stress — Cutch went down, you know, a lot of situation going on with the lineup, you know, I'm hitting four, I never hit four in my life. So, there were a lot of things going on in the season that sometimes affect players."

Segura hit .280 with a .743 OPS last season, significant drops from the marks of .308 and .803 he'd averaged the previous three seasons.

His work at shortstop also slipped as he went from a plus-5 to a minus-5 in defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs.

Declines like these might lead a front office to consider moving on from a player, but the Phillies figure to have Segura for a while as they owe him $45 million through 2022.

The Phils will look for ways to get more out of Segura this season and one of them is a position change. With newcomer Didi Gregorius taking over at shortstop, Segura figures to open the season at second base, a position he thrived at for Arizona in 2016. Segura will get some looks at third base during spring training, but he's never played there and when the curtain goes up on the regular season, he will likely be at second with Scott Kingery at third.

Segura, who turns 30 next month, said he was not slighted by the addition of Gregorius.

"We added another good player," he said. "As a professional baseball player, I have to understand what's best for the team, what's best for the organization. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do it. I just want to play and have fun."

Segura had a lot of fun the first two months of last season. He ended May hitting .301 with an .809 OPS. 

On June 3, in the first inning of a game at San Diego, the good vibes that Segura had been feeling went away when McCutchen went down with a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee. McCutchen blew out the knee in a rundown that resulted from Segura's not running out an infield popup.

McCutchen's injury was a huge loss for the Phillies. At the time, he had the second-best on-base percentage (.378) of any leadoff man in the majors. After the injury, Phillies leadoff men recorded at .295 on-base percentage, second worst in the majors, over the remainder of the season.

Though McCutchen absolved his teammate of any blame — and continues to do so — Segura was and still is bothered by the incident.

"It was frustrating for me," he said. "We were hot. I was hot. And when that happened because I didn't hustle down the line, a lot of people judged me for that. A lot of people didn't, but at the end of the day, it's what I think and I think I didn't hustle. I don't think it was my fault. He got hurt maybe because that day he was going to get hurt. At the end of the day, people looked at it like it was my fault, but it's a baseball game and you can't control a baseball game.

"But at the end of the day it affected my mentality because one of my teammates went down because I didn't run down the line. I thought about it a lot through the season. My body, my energy level went down. I was kind of frustrated about it because at that time he was hot, he was leading off and I was hitting second. It was like a two-punch right away and when you don't see that two-punch right away when we start a game, it's tough."

Segura spent the winter getting in better physical shape and he believes it will help him.

"You can put 14 pounds on your shoulder and go running and you'll feel how heavy it is when you get tired," he said. "That happens sometimes when you're overweight and you play shortstop and you stress a lot."

His off-season fitness program included eating better, sleeping more and giving up whiskey. He still might have an occasional glass of wine with his wife, but no more whiskey.

"I think everybody in this sport drinks whiskey and now I'm not drinking anymore," he said. "Now I feel pretty good. I feel excited and ready to go."

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Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Because of the coronavirus health crisis and the delay in starting the Major League Baseball season, the Phillies remain in a holding pattern on a couple of significant baseball matters, general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday.

It's still unclear whether reliever Seranthony Dominguez will opt to have his injured right elbow surgically repaired. The health crisis has prevented Dominguez from getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Dominguez is currently with family in his native Dominican Republic.

"Medicine is not always black and white," Klentak said. "There's a possibility it may head down that (surgical) road, but until he gets the second opinion, we have no firm declaration. For a lot of players, surgery is a last option, particularly when the surgery keeps you out as long as Tommy John surgery does. Before we go down that road, we want to make sure everyone is in agreement on what the right course of action is."

Dominguez saw Andrews shortly after injuring his elbow in early June last season. Surgery was not recommended at that time, but Dominguez missed the remainder of the season. He had a setback in August and again in March and all signs point to his needing surgery. Andrews would be a likely person to handle the surgery, but he is not seeing patients at the moment because of the health crisis.

Surgery, whenever it happens, would sideline Dominguez for more than a year.

The other matter currently on hold involves All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and the team's effort to sign him to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent in the fall. The two sides had begun negotiations in February, but those talks, by mandate from Major League Baseball, are now on hold because of the health crisis.

Could the freeze on negotiations and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a 2020 season hurt the Phillies in their quest to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market?

"Whenever we resume playing, we'll see what the circumstances are and re-engage," Klentak said. "Nobody can predict what the parameters will be at that point or what will happen, but I think everyone knows we love J.T. and he's a player we'd love to have for the long haul."

Thursday would have been the Phillies' home opener. They had been scheduled to play their first seven games on the road before MLB suspended action on March 12 and encouraged players to head home. Training facilities have subsequently been closed except to a handful of players who are rehabilitating from injuries. 

MLB still hopes to have a season in some form, but nothing is certain. Like the rest of the world, it is at the mercy of the virus.

"I don't have enough information to know what's going to happen and I'm not sure anyone does," Klentak said. "What I am confident about is owners, players, front offices, fans, media, everybody is aligned in wanting to play baseball as quickly as we can. When all parties are as aligned as that, it gives me confidence that we'll get back as soon as we can get back. But I'm not in a position to make any predictions as to when that might happen.

"We'll do the best we can in the interim to prepare for the season. If it's a traditional season, we'll be prepared. If it's a modified season, we'll be prepared. I have a lot of confidence in league operations."

A resumed spring training would be required before any type of regular season, but Klentak would not speculate on what that might look like.

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Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

The suspension of the Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus health crisis has already hurt the revenues of all teams and will continue to do so as long as the game is shut down.

This has some people who work for teams all over baseball concerned about their jobs. 

Every MLB team, according to sources, has informed its full-time employees that business will run as usual through the end of April at which point teams will assess their respective situations.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak on Thursday was asked about the potential for layoffs or salary cuts within the organization.

"That's a situation that is not unique to baseball, unfortunately," Klentak said. "A lot of decisions will be made above my pay grade, obviously. For all of us, we are hopeful that we'll resume and not have to take measures like that. We trust that the Phillies are owned and run by very good people — and have been for a long time. Everybody is trying to do the best thing right now."

Layoffs and salary cuts were a big issue during the work stoppage in 1994-95. Some teams did cut full-time staff and pay. The Phillies did not.

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