The Washington Post

Nationals, fans give Jean Segura an ovation in first at-bat following son’s death

Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, shown last month. (Morry Gash/Associated Press)

What Jean Segura has experienced in the past week is beyond comprehension. Exactly a week ago, he received news that his 9-month-old son, Janniel, died suddenly in the Dominican Republic. Jean Segura left the Milwaukee Brewers and returned to his native country. He rejoined the team on Friday, the first game back from the all-star break. He wanted to get back to baseball to help keep his mind off his family’s tragic loss.

And as he stepped to the plate before his first at-bat Friday against the Nationals, Segura received what amounted to a giant hug from his opponents and their fans. Clusters of fans — most of them donning Brewers gear but Nationals fans, too, among them — stood up and clapped for Segura. Players from both dugouts joined the ovation.

Segura, 24, looked up to the sky, paused for a split second, adjusted his batting gloves and stepped into the batter’s box. Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg took a tad longer to throw Segura his first pitch, allowing him to soak in the support.

“It was great,” Segura said. “I breathe a little bit. Just let it go. I feel pretty good. I feel awesome those people care about the players. Not even to me, but to any guys who have losses. I feel amazing how the peoples cares about the baseball players.”

After Segura lined out to center fielder Denard Span to end the inning, shortstop Ian Desmond and left fielder Bryce Harper smacked Segura on his backside, the universal greeting in baseball, as they ran into the dugout and Segura waited to take his position.

“Their teammates say they sorry to me what happen,” Segura said. “They talked to [Brewers Manager] Ron [Roenicke]. I feel pretty good they do that. I appreciate the support they give to me.”

The touching gestures, although small, didn’t go unnoticed by the Brewers.

“It shows a lot about what the people think is important,” Roenicke said. “I liked it. I thought it was pretty cool.”

“It was awesome,” Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett added. “Got a little bit of the goose bumps. I couldn’t imagine the emotion [Segura] was feeling. I thought it was first class. The fans. The players. Strasburg sat back and gave him some time. Just good guys. Just good guys to be professional with, understanding people’s situations, it’s a great thing. It’s good to see that.”

The Brewers have vowed to keep an extra eye on Segura and plan to give him days off when needed if he struggles emotionally. But after Friday’s game, Segura said he felt good and the love he received has helped. For a few moments on a baseball field Friday night, baseball was rightfully a secondary concern.

“I thought that was classy by our fans, just to acknowledge what he’s going through,” Span said. “I can’t even imagine. But for him to be on the road, for our fans to have the knowledge of what he’s going through, it’s definitely not going to make him feel better. But hopefully he appreciated it just a little bit.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.



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