By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Mar 25, 2015 at 1:01 PM Photography: David Bernacchi

Jean Segura smiled at the question, but not the kind of smile that comes from joy, but the instant, quick, kind that acknowledges an uncomfortable truth.

There isn’t a manual for this, is there?

"Yeah," he said. "There’s not."

As quick as it came, it went.

"There’s not."

2014 didn’t come and go very quickly for the 25-year-old Milwaukee Brewers shortstop, even though it started with so much promise.

Despite a late season slump, 2013 was a revelation. In his first full major league season Segura made the National League All-Star team, hit .294, had 42 extra base hits, stole 44 bases and posted a 3.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

When the calendar flipped, the Brewers approached him about a contract extension in February, like they did in the past with Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Yovani Gallardo. But, by the end of March, those talks broke off.

Around that time, Segura injured his throwing shoulder forcing him to miss over a week of spring training, and while an MRI revealed no damage, there was real thought about placing him on the disabled list to start the year.

That decision wasn’t made, and by the end of April he was moved down to the bottom of the Brewers lineup.

A move that, at least to him, only exacerbated his struggles at the plate that saw him finish the 2014 season with a .246 batting average, 31 runs batted in, 25 extra base hits and 20 stolen bases.

"I mean, exactly, I got frustrated," he admitted. "I just started the season and hitting at the bottom of the lineup. I lose that. Then I go back to the eight hole. There is not many (things) you can do in the eight hole. So, it’s tough, because you’ve got the pitcher behind (you). Some points you want to run and you want to also do some things that you have, that you always doing, and it’s tough. It’s tough. It’s tough over there. You can definitely see there’s not many guys in the eight hole passing really good numbers. It’s not easy to do. You can count on your fingers how many guys have a good season hitting in the eight hole. I mean, its tough. I had to deal with it."

In the middle of it all, his infant son Janniel passed away unexpectedly on July 12, devastating him and the clubhouse.

But, after a week away in the Dominican Republic, he was back in Milwaukee.

Segura is very introspective, and studies the game. He can recognize a lesson as it’s being taught – even if it’s professionally difficult to admit to it – and tries to learn from it immediately.

Only in 2014, had to apply that to his life, as well as the game.

"It was tough," he admitted. "Inside and outside of baseball. Personal. Everything. It was a tough year for me. And I didn’t expect to have that kind of season like that, you know? I didn’t expect anybody in baseball to have the same kind of issues this year, (as) me. It was a tough time. But I had to deal with it and try to let it go."

For it was worth, he hit .271 over his final 58 games.

"This year I learned a lot," he said. "There was tough moments to me and my family, but I had to do it. And, try to not put too (much) pressure on my head about what was happening with me outside the baseball. When I come here, I leave those other things out of my head and when I come here, just focus on playing my game."

Yes, his game.

It’s fair to say the Brewers are wondering what exactly that is now. Is it the All-Star half season of 2013? Is it the struggles the second half of that year, and all of last year? How much did the shoulder injury slow him down at the plate, and what can be chalked up to his emotional state?

For his part, Segura feels his issues were a little of both, a little mechanical and a little mental, and he worked on both over this winter and spring.

"It’s, you know, try to visualize the pitch I want to hit, and just take some time," he said. "Sometimes you go through an approach in the plate and they approach you different than you think it is. This game, you always learn this game. You never stop learning. Even if you’re a veteran guy, you always learn something in this game. Because past years, the game can come different, some different style. Now everybody throw hard. Back in the 80’s, nobody threw hard. Back in the 90’s, nobody throw hard. Now, everybody here throw hard.

"So, baseball, the year pass up and gaining difficult, difficult, difficult, and when a guy is not mentally prepared, they pay off. I think, it’s all a mental problem. I continue to have a great approach to hit, but as I say, you can’t control the result."

For as bad as 2014 was, Segura feels that all of it – yes, all of it – will help him not only in 2015, but forever.

"Oh, yeah. especially when you’re young," he said. "When you’re young, you learn. You go through those things quickly because you’re young. I have a long way to go in baseball. I think if I’m here it’s because I have that belief I’ll be here a long time, in the big leagues. That’s important.

"Mentally, 90 percent. Ten percent is physical. You need to be mental focused in, play baseball, and do the best you can on the field. The results, you can’t control the results. You can control how you play and how you bring to the field."

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

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.