Brewers shortstop Jean Segura shouldn't be judged by his initial performance in Milwaukee.
By RYAN KARTJEFS Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE — With the weight of the Milwaukee Brewers' expectations resting on the young shoulders of new shortstop Jean Segura in his debut on Monday night, Segura's debut performance wasn't quite something to write home about for those hoping he'd immediately signal a bright future for the Milwaukee organization.
Segura struck out twice and went 0-for-4 in his debut for the Brewers. And coupled with his only game as an Angel last month, Segura has yet to tally a hit in the major leagues, while striking out four times.
But Monday night, especially in his first at-bat — in which he struck out on three straight pitches — it was clear that nerves had something to do with his debut struggles.
"I think it was OK," Segura said. "I didn't give too much offense, but I was feeling fine. … There was a little bit of emotions."
The pressure of being a building block of the future is something Segura says he hasn't put on himself, but with the Brewers attempting to see as much young talent as possible in the next two months, it's a thought that had to be on the 22-year-old shortstop's mind — at least at some point — when he was called up to the major leagues Monday.
For Brewers manager Ron Roenicke though, his job calls for keeping Segura comfortable, even if that undeniable pressure is weighing on him. Roenicke isn't too concerned about it, given how many good things he heard from former Angels co-workers about Segura's mental toughness.
"As the games go by, I'll have a lot of conversations with him," Roenicke said. "I just told him to go have fun and be aggressive, and then, we'll work on the other things. But right away, I don't want to put too much on him. I don't think he's necessarily thinking of the future and that he has to good right now or he won't be in there. But he understands where we are with our shortstop situation, and he's a good one. He's going to try and make an impression on us."
Segura was also in Tuesday's starting lineup, batting in the eighth spot and facing a tough Cincinnati pitcher for the second day in a row. In his debut, Segura faced an off-speed specialist in Bronson Arroyo, and he took on one of the NL's best power pitchers in Johnny Cueto on Tuesday.
It's trial by fire, for sure, for the young shortstop. And for a fan base that is hoping to see the future now, it may take a little bit of patience before the true talent Segura has shines through.
"With a lot of young players, very rarely do you see someone come up and do what (Angels outfielder) Mike Trout is doing," Brewers director of pro scouting Zack Minasian said. "We were very fortunate to have Ryan Braun have instant success, but some of our other players — Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Prince (Fielder) — they're going to go through growing pains. You just hope that learning curve will go as quick as possible. We do think he has the ability to play up here right now. … I think he probably still has areas in his game that he thinks he can improve, and we think he can improve."
No aces: Conventional baseball knowledge says that having a true ace pitcher in your starting rotation is required for success in the regular season and especially the postseason.
And since Zack Greinke was sent to the Angels at the trade deadline, the Brewers have had to operate without a defined ace providing consistency at the top-end of their rotation.
But with Greinke gone and that ace spot vacated, is it safe to call Yovani Gallardo the Brewers' new ace?
Gallardo's numbers lately have certainly indicated a potential to step into that No. 1 role, as he's given up more than one earned run on just two occasions since June 25. But all season, he's been prone to off-days that suggest calling him Milwaukee's ace would be jumping the gun. On five occasions this season, he's given up four or more earned runs in an outing. In all five outings, he was responsible for the Brewers' loss.
Still, Gallardo's season has shown flashes of that No. 1 potential in the 10 wins he's registered. But Roenicke was hesitant to use the word "ace" when asked about Gallardo's spot at the top of the rotation.
"I never really called any of our guys aces," Roenicke said. "I don't think I really want to say it that way. Both Zack and Yo have pitched themselves into where they're No. 1 guys, but it's consistency over a season and over years that really makes a guy an ace. You can say maybe Yo is the best pitcher on our staff, if you want to say things like that, but I don't like to say that because then somebody else who's pitching well asks, ‘Why did he say that about him?' That's why I never say things like that."
Parra gets good news: After being sidelined by shoulder irritation that has held him out of action for almost two weeks, reliever Manny Parra said Tuesday that he got good news from team doctor William Raasch in a check-up.
"It was just inflammation," Parra said. "You go through the season and there's different times when your shoulder is bothering you and other times when it's not. Sometimes when your shoulder bothers you enough, you get to a point where you have to shut it down. That's what happened here. … We've just been trying to take it slow and let it calm down."
Roenicke said the news from Raasch was definitely optimistic, but the team doesn't have a return date in mind yet for Parra.
"The doctor said it looked good, so we're going to see how he plays catch today and see if we can push him along a little bit," Roenicke said.