CLEARWATER, Fla. — Talk about getting the third degree.
In his first game ever at third base, Jean Segura had a half-dozen chances in five innings Sunday in the Phillies’ 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Spectrum Field. He handled most without a problem, including a line drive, a pop-up and three grounders. But the grounder to his left that deflected off his glove for a single in the third inning? Well, not so much.
"Thought he did a pretty good job,” manager Joe Girardi said. "I think a lot of it is learning which balls to go after and which balls not to. As a shortstop, you’re used to going after everything.”
A natural shortstop, Segura played second base for Arizona in 2015. But the Phillies prefer that he play third, a move that would allow Scott Kingery to stick at second base.
Thus far, Segura has taken almost all of his practice reps at third base. Among the biggest adjustments, according to Girardi, will be communicating about when to yield to shortstop Didi Gregorius on balls that are hit in between them.
Ultimately, though, Segura’s ability to play third base might come down to his willingness to move to a position he has never played. Some veteran players don’t want to risk looking foolish by making mistakes at a new position. Upon reporting to camp, Segura claimed he’s ready to give it a try.
“I think that’s a lot of the battle,” Girardi said of getting a buy-in from Segura. “Because he has the hands, he has the quickness, he has the range, he has the arm. He has all that. But it’s embracing it. If you make a wrong read, it’s not being embarrassed and just saying, ‘OK, I learned from that.’ ”
A final verdict on the alignment of Segura and Kingery may not come for a few weeks. Until then, Girardi wants to continue to see Segura at third base as much as possible.
"The plays don't look hard for him. It's the reads that he's got to get accustomed to," Girardi said. "He's said all along, 'I can play second in my sleep,' because he's done it. [Third base] is the trickier one for him.”
Center fielder Roman Quinn made a pair of nice catches in the fifth inning, going back to the wall on one ball and coming in for a diving grab on another. He also led off the game with a double to jump-start the Phillies’ four-run first inning against Pirates starter Trevor Williams.
“I don’t think you can ever outrun a baseball, but [Quinn] can come pretty close because of the speed that he has,” Girardi said. “He had a really good day.”
Jay Bruce finished 2-for-2 with two doubles.
Minor-league pitcher Jeff Singer, who was born in Northeast Philadelphia and grew up in South Jersey, came on to strike out the final batter of the game on three pitches.