MILWAUKEE — There were obvious questions as to how Jean Segura would respond from what was a difficult season both on and off the field in 2014.
And while seven games is hardly a sample size worth jumping to conclusions over, Segura has shown positive signs of an offensive resurgence during spring training and the early part of the regular season.
"I don’t know whether he will hit like he did two years ago, but he’s really swinging the bat well," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Anything we get close to a couple of years ago is going to be huge."
After posting a .305 batting average in spring training, Segura is hitting .304 with a home run and two doubles in 25 plate appearances. He’s driving the ball much more than he did a year ago, as evidenced by the way he turned on a Vance Worley slider for a 440-foot homer last Saturday.
"I feel good," Segura said. "I just go out there and compete, do the best I can. Any step possible, every at-bat, every inning, every moment. Just keep learning."
During the offseason, Segura made a few adjustments to his batting stance to focus on holding his hands back in order to shift more weight to his back leg in order to avoid getting out in front of pitches.
He implemented those changes during the short time he spent playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
"I made a lot of adjustments," Segura said. "I’ve been working out with my hitting coach. I’ve just been working hard, trying to find a spot to put me in good position to hit the ball, and that’s what I’ve been doing . . ."
"(I’m trying) to look for the pitch that I can handle. Last year, they kept pitching me in and (I kept) swinging at it. If you keep swinging it, they’re going to throw there. Right now, I just walk in and try to see my pitch and attack."
It is important for any player to see early results at the plate after making tweaks to either their stance or swing. While seven games hardly prove he’s back to the offensive player he was in 2013, early success breeds confidence in a guy who lacked that aspect of his game last season.
Segura began the season hitting in the unenviable eighth spot, but he has hit seventh in five of seven games. When Jonathan Lucroy got the day off Sunday, Roenicke bumped Segura up to second in the lineup.
"I mean, it is (important to see early results) because you want to get that feeling," Segura said. "As soon as you get that feeling, you’re going to be comfortable no matter what. You don’t care who’s on the mound, who’s pitching. You’ve got that feeling, you feel good. If you feel good, it doesn’t matter who is pitching on the mound."
Segura is equally important to the Brewers at shortstop as he is at the plate. He’s already committed three errors in 34 chances, with two of those miscues coming in Monday’s victory over St. Louis.
He threw away a potential double-play ball allowing a run to score in the fourth inning, threw high on another double-play try in the fifth and committed a throwing error to allow Matt Holiday to reach in the seventh.
Segura’s defense also took a hit in 2014, as his 16 errors were third-most among National League shortstops. His defensive runs saved dropped from 3 to 1, while his Ultimate Zone Rating went from -1.1 to -4.0.
"Defensively he’s doing a real nice job," Roenicke said Saturday, prior to Segura’s two-error game. "He’s communicating better. He (recently) called Aramis (Ramirez) off on a ground ball. When he’s really on top of his game, I think he’s thinking well out there."