WASHINGTON -- One night after he didn’t run hard out of the box on a bloop single, a play that manager Gabe Kapler labeled as “unacceptable,” Jean Segura was back in the Phillies lineup for Thursday night’s game here at Nationals Park.
“Jean is one of our eight best players,” Kapler said. “I don’t think taking one of our eight best players and our shortstop out of our lineup is what’s best for the Philadelphia Phillies.”
Complicating the issue, though, is that Segura has now exhibited a lack of hustle twice in the span of three weeks. He didn’t run out a pop-up on June 3 in San Diego, the beginning of an infamous play in which Andrew McCutchen got into a rundown and suffered a season-ending left knee injury.
This time, like the previous one, Kapler spoke to Segura after the game. He said they watched video of the play. They spoke again by FaceTime on Thursday morning. Segura agreed that he would have been on second base if he had run hard after making contact.
In a game that the Phillies wound up losing, 2-0, a leadoff double in the first inning against Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer might have made a difference.
Segura admitted as much after Wednesday night’s game, just as he did three weeks earlier.
“It wasn’t a good effort,” he said. “I was hitting and I kept watching the ball instead of running. I don’t have an excuse. I should have run hard out of the box and been on second instead of first. That can’t happen, especially the type of player that I am. It’s just a tough moment for me.”
So, why does this keep happening? And would it change Segura’s effort level if Kapler benched him for a game?
Segura, who homered in the fifth inning Thursday night, explained that he has been frustrated at the plate. Entering Thursday, he was in a 15-for-90 rut that dropped his average from .325 on May 23 to .270. He suggested that perhaps it has affected his concentration.
It wouldn’t be the first time. Segura has played for four teams in the last five years despite being a .300 hitter in each of the last three seasons and tallying more hits in fewer games since 2013 than Mike Trout. He has been criticized before for not always hustling.
Back in spring training, Kapler mentioned that he has known Segura’s agent, Nez Balelo, for roughly 30 years. Balelo was one of Kapler’s hitting coaches when he was growing up in Southern California. And before the Phillies finalized a December trade for Segura, Kapler called Balelo, presumably to discuss how to get the most out of the team’s new shortstop.
During that video chat Thursday morning, Kapler made Segura aware of a full-scale lineup shuffle in which Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins were being moved into the top two spots in the order and Segura was being dropped to No. 5. But he made mention again of Wednesday night’s blunder.
“I told him that we’re going to address not just him but other players in the clubhouse," Kapler said. "And we’re going to talk about the highest level of effort and talk about how we can’t win every night but we can win the game of give-a-[hoot] and be undefeated in that category. Then we can protect the Phillies by putting the best lineup together on a nightly basis and not think about making ourselves feel better by sending a message.”