Sitting in the Milwaukee Brewers dugout as he does before every game, fielding questions from the assembled media, manager Ron Roenicke was recently asked about the unique season shortstop Jean Segura has put together – but not at the plate, or in the field, instead, the odd highlight reel he’s compiled on the base paths.
The third-year manager grinned a bit and flipped his hands up at his sides, letting them fall helplessly with a clap on the padded back of the bench he sits atop.
The 23-year-old shortstop is an All-Star, is vying for the National League hits and stolen base titles, and has proven he can play short every day. But baserunning … that can be interesting.
"’Siggy has had a couple interesting situations come up," Roenicke said. "But, if you’re quick you can get out of things some times. If you watch (Washington Nationals outfielder) Bryce Harper – we played him last year and he gets caught off second base. He’s halfway down between second and third on a secondary lead, we throw behind him, and he breaks and goes to third. It wasn’t planned. He was stuck. But he’s fast, he’s aggressive, and he just reacted and it worked out for him.
"Those type players, they may do some goofy stuff but it works out a lot."
Even Segura, often stone faced pre-game in the few moments he’s available between hitting sessions, cracked a bit when talking about his adventures running the infield.
"I just try to do the best I can in the game, stay hustling all the time and it just happens" he said.
The play that will be relived as long as some form of broadcast media and the game exists, was his steal of second, his "steal" of first, and subsequent caught stealing of second on April 19 against the Chicago Cubs.
Carlos Gomez giggled the memory four months later as if it just happened.
"I’ve never seen anybody steal first," he said with a big smile. "You’re on second and you come back to first? It’s weird."
Known for running the bases aggressively himself, even Gomez couldn’t think of a time when he found himself in the situations Segura has put himself in – including the steal of home on Aug. 14 against the Texas Rangers.
"Not really. I’m the kind of guy that if I go, I go. I’m not going to stop. It’s hard to do. When you’re in-between, a lot of things can happen," Gomez said. "The time he stole home, that can happen to anybody because it’s a squeeze, and it’s a ball, and now you’re in the middle."
"That was a first one for me," Segura added. "I’ve never been in a situation like that. We had a play on and the guy missed it and I did the best I could to get in the rundown. I tried to get to the next base and I made it. It just happened (shrugged). I can’t control that.""
On Monday night, Segura put fans on the edge of their seats in the seventh inning when he bunted for a base hit – and was already in the outfield grass up the first base line when he noticed that St. Louis Cardinals reliever Michael Wacha threw the ball behind him. Segura made a huge turn and barely beat the throw from right fielder Carlos Beltran, splayed across the second base bag.
"It’s baseball," Segura shrugged. "You don’t know what’s going to happen in baseball to you."
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.