Jean Segura blinked at the question.
When was the last time you didn’t play baseball?
The Milwaukee Brewers’ All-Star shortstop will turn only 24 in mid-March, and Opening Day two weeks later will mark the start of just his second full season in Major League Baseball.
On paper, he doesn’t have much of a history upon which to reflect.
But, as a native of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic, Segura has been playing baseball as long as he can remember, and specifically, year round, even as a young professional first with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and then the Brewers.
After his first full season, a year in which he made the National League All-Star team, he also physically wore down in September. Due to the number of plate appearances he made, the Brewers were able to tell him his days of playing year-round were over.
When he went home to the Dominican Republic, he would only work out – not play baseball.
"It was a long vacation for me," Segura said. "I don’t get used to the time off as a player. Everything is done for a good reason.
"Yeah, it was good (for my body). I’ve been playing for almost three years with no rest."
Segura admitted even during the course of last year that the adjustment he had to make in a full major league season wasn’t necessarily the number of games played – winter ball had always extended that wear and tear – but it was the travel; the tough back-to-backs and nights with little sleep.
"It’s physical, and mental too," Segura said of the benefits of not playing, and traveling more, in the winter.
Segura’s manager saw that mental grind wear on his young shortstop as well.
"(He) didn’t play winter ball this year, so we’re hope that made a big difference in what happens with him (this year)," Ron Roenicke said. "But also the pressure of being in the major leagues as a shortstop and being out there every day and hitting first, second and even third in the lineup. There was a lot put on him last year."
Segura didn’t set out to work on any specific part of his game, like hitting off left-handed pitching or trying to drive the ball more – which also loosened up his thinking regarding the follow up to an All-Star campaign.
He shook his head when asked if he had to work hard to not think about adding that pressure to his shoulders.
"You don’t try to do too much," he said. "You just go out there and play, have fun, and not try to do too much because it’s not going to work that way. If you try to do too much in baseball, in this game, it’s not good. I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can and try to be a better player."
So, what will he do?
"Just keep doing what I do and having fun."
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.