Jean Segura turned the corner into the Milwaukee Brewers clubhouse, gray T-shirt darkened by sweat, squeezing his black bat between heavy white batting gloves.
Team batting practice was still on the schedule, but the 22-year-old shortstop had already been hard at work.
The offensive transition to the big leagues has been slow for Segura, the centerpiece of the Brewers' trade to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for ace Zack Greinke.
When he was acquired on July 27, along with pitchers Ariel Pena and John Hellweg, Segura was immediately sent to Class AA Huntsville. In his brief, eight-game stint there, he hit .433 and had a .500 on base percentage in in 37 plate appearances.
In 399 career minor league games, Segura was a career .313 hitter with a .807 OPS and 120 extra base hits – 67 of which were doubles.
With the Brewers foundering, Segura made his Brewers debut on Aug. 6 at home against Cincinnati. He collected his first major league hit three days later.
Since then, he has hit .206 over 63 at-bats with just one extra base hit.
"My teammates are helping me," the softspoken rookie said. "We'll see what I can handle and we'll see what I can do. Hopefully it'll be hits, doubles, something positive to the game, to win the game.
Despite being in the organization for only 11 days before his call up, the wait seemed like forever for those wanting to see one of baseball's top-rated prospects. The Brewers have built its recent success around home grown All-Star talent like Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart.
While Segura wasn't signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Brewers, his youth and lack of major league experience slides him into that category.
The pressure, Segura admitted, got to him.
"It's been tough to me, but that's the way it goes," he said, still wearing his batting gloves. "You get traded, you go to double A, get called up. I feel comfortable now. I feel more easy. These guys are helping me. You have bad moments and they keep you up, they tell you 'Hey, let's go, it's OK, it's going to be one of those days, gonna be one of those weekends.' Bad weekends, good weekends, bad months, good months, that's baseball, you know?"
He also admitted to pressing at the plate "because they bring you here for a reason."
Since beginning his professional career at the age of 17, all Segura has done is hit, and while he may be frustrated with his current performance – it's not showing defensively, in his attitude, or with his work ethic.
"His head is really good," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "One of the things before we traded for him, we wanted to know about what kind of makeup he had and what kind of instincts he has. It's good. So that part is really important. For me, and I think for our staff, when we see a guy who has those instincts and then those tools, now that can really be good."
Weeks sees the same thing.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft out of Southern University, Weeks was a highly anticipated prospect and made his major league debut late that season. He stuck for good after being called up again in 2005 and went through some of the same early struggle and adjustments.
"I think it hasn't been too much of a hard transition for him," Weeks said of Segura. "For him, I think you can tell he has a lot of confidence in his game. He knows he's handling a lot right now and he's taking steps toward learning, but trying to get to know the guys around here and pick some brains here and there. I think he's doing a pretty good job of doing that right now."
Due to a string of injuries and roster moves, Weeks has had to adjust to several double play partners at shortstop this season. He's also seen a slew of young players make their debuts as well.
To him, Segura is acclimating himself on the field just fine as well.
"Honestly, I haven't seen any issues yet, at all, to tell you the truth," the veteran second baseman said. "The biggest thing I think he learned was if you tell him one thing, he immediately takes that on and does a pretty good job of doing it. I see great the great hands and footwork of a shortstop. That helps as well. He's doing a great job of working hard. He's very humble, so that goes a long way, too."
Situated between veterans Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras and Carlos Gomez and down the locker line from Braun and Hart, Segura says the positive vibes his teammates and coaches have given him have helped him as much as anything.
"They don't tell anybody else if you struggle, you know?," Segura said. "That's a good part of our teammates. People struggle and all your teammates are like 'Hey lets go, you're OK, you're going to get it.' It's going to be good, especially when you're a rookie."
Several minutes into a conversation, he finally unstrapped his batting gloves – but didn't take them off.
"There's going to be a tough one, tough moments in the big leagues, but you want to do good so bad," he said. "Recently I'm not doing too good and you're gonna pouting and be down and don't have a good one in the field and it's not too good, so I'm keeping it the best I can and be positive in everything, I don't care how bad my offense (is) I'm going to go back there and play defense and compete."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.