CLEARWATER, Fla. — Call him Gin Segura.
With the Phillies holding their first full-squad workout Monday, veteran infielder Jean Segura reported to the Carpenter Complex and revealed that he has lost 14 pounds since the end of last season.
His secret: Better food, more sleep, and quitting even casual consumption of alcohol, specifically whiskey.
"I think everybody in this sport drinks whiskey, and now I'm not drinking anymore," Segura said. "Maybe once in a while."
Segura is one of the more interesting players in Phillies camp -- and for reasons that go beyond his imbibing habits. In his second season with the team, the longtime shortstop will have a new position. He just doesn’t know if it will be to the left or right of Didi Gregorius, the free-agent shortstop who signed a one-year, $14 million contract in December.
The Phillies have not yet decided whether Segura will play second base or third, and according to manager Joe Girardi, they might not render a verdict until the waning days of spring training after getting a sufficient look at Segura at both spots.
Segura has played second before. His best season, in fact, came as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ second baseman in 2016. But he has no experience at third, unlike Scott Kingery, who has played all over the field for the last two years.
So, although some team officials strongly prefer Kingery at his natural second base and Segura at third, the Phillies also want to be sure Segura is comfortable at a new position rather than foisting it upon him.
“I’ve taken a few [grounders at third] in the Dominican, but here it’s different,” said Segura, who was at third base during infield drills Monday. “We’ll see. I think I can handle the position. I don’t think it’s going to be a big problem. Whatever they want me to play, I will play and do my best.”
By most metrics, including the old-fashioned eye test, Segura had a down year last season.
A .300 average is a point of pride for Segura, a contact hitter who doesn't often walk or strike out. But he batted only .280, his lowest mark since 2015 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Likewise, his adjusted OPS (90) represented a four-year low.
Segura’s fielding metrics slipped, too. General manager Matt Klentak said the Phillies didn’t sign Gregorius because they desired a defensive upgrade. But Segura was five runs worse than the average shortstop and 10 worse than his 2018 performance, according to Baseball Info Solution’s defensive runs saved.
“I don’t think my year was that bad,” he said. “I think a thousand players want to take that year, especially playing in the big leagues and in our division. How many guys hit .280 in our division?”
Segura made one thing clear: He regrets not running out an infield fly on June 3 in San Diego. At the end of that play, Andrew McCutchen got caught in a rundown between first and second base and tore a ligament in his knee, an unfortunate coincidence that shined a light on Segura’s lack of hustle.
“It affected me mentally because one of my teammates went down because I didn’t run down the line," Segura said. "I thought about it a lot through the season. My body, my energy level went down. I was frustrated because at that time he was hot, he was leading off. I was hitting second. It was like a one-two punch right away.”
The offense suffered after McCutchen was lost for the season. The Phillies tried seven players atop the order, but Cesar Hernandez, Segura, Bryce Harper, Scott Kingery, Corey Dickerson, Roman Quinn and Rhys Hoskins combined for a .689 OPS out of the leadoff spot. McCutchen had an .834 OPS in 219 at-bats.
McCutchen said he has rehashed the play with Segura and assured him it wasn’t his fault.
“It’s all good. We talked about it. We’re fine‚” McCutchen said. “Learn from it. Move on. I guarantee next time he’s going to run to first. That’s the end of it. It’s not like I was mad at him or upset at him. The way it happened is the way it happened. I could have gone out the next inning and had none of that happen and tried to stop and catch a ball and had my knee blow out. We don’t know.”
Segura can therefore clear his mind, just as he cleaned up his body, a change that he believes will help him get through a long season. Good thing, too, considering the Phillies owe him $46.5 million through the 2022 season.
"You can put 14 pounds on your shoulder and go running and you'll feel how heavy it is when you get tired," Segura said. "That happens sometimes when you're overweight and you play short and you stress a lot.
“I think that’s the big change to quit alcohol. My body is still pretty good. I’m healthy, eating-wise. Now I go to bed early. Now I feel pretty good. I feel excited and ready to go.”