BOSTON -- Shortly after he was named manager of th Orioles, John Oates said he didn't think it was necessary for David Segui to go back to the minor leagues.
But for three straight games Segui sat on the bench, a funnplace for a young prospect to be if he didn't need further training. While he sat, he learned, and the Orioles started to look like a respectable major-league team.
Last night Segui found himself playing the most unpredictablleftfield in baseball, the one guarded by Fenway Park's famous "Jolly Green Giant" -- the wall that tortures pitchers and fielders without prejudice. And for the first time in his career, Segui left his personal stamp on a major-league game.
This was the game that marked Dwight Evans' return to historied stomping grounds -- and was slightly upstaged by a pinch-hit three-run homer in the ninth inning by Sam Horn, a former teammate and fellow Red Sox reject.
It was the night that Mike Devereaux delivered the seconbiggest clutch hit of the year for the Orioles (behind Tim Hulett's game-winning homer in Detroit last week), and another solid performance by Jeff Ballard.
The occasion also was marked by Mike Flanagan's first savsince 1977, his first full year in the big leagues. On top of it all, the 9-3 win over the division-leading, but struggling Red Sox was a season-high third straight for the Orioles.
Right in the middle of it all was Segui, whose sixth-inning doubldrove in two runs and highlighted a four-run sixth inning that allowed the Orioles to break open a tight, 2-1 game.
When it was over, Segui was almost lost in the crowd as thmedia swarmed Evans and the Orioles watched the final minutes of the Lakers' win over Portland in the NBA playoffs. The key double is something he expects, and is expected, to do.
Playing leftfield in Fenway, even if it was uneventful, wasomething else. Segui's father, Diego, was a well-traveled major-league pitcher who worked for the Red Sox for a couple of seasons in the early 1970s.
"I always wanted to go out and play a ball off that wall," saiDavid, who was a pre-teenager at the time. "It was kind of a dream -- I watched Yaz [Carl Yastrzemski] play out there -- but I never thought it could happen."
Leftfield was relatively uneventful for Segui last night. Ellis Burksseventh-inning double was the only ball that touched the wall. It also delivered two runs, but that was after Segui had provided the impetus that gave the Orioles a cushion.
Segui is aware of how he has been assessed by Oates. He alsknows there are no guarantees. "He's talked to me about it [not needing to go back to the minors]," said the switch-hitting rookie. "That's not to say it's not going to happen, but it's nice that the manager has that kind of confidence in you.
"I feel the same way," said the quietly confident Segui. "I havthe confidence that I can play here, but sometimes you have to wait your turn. I realized when we got Glenn Davis it might set me back, but that it made us a better team."
It is the exposure to veteran players that Segui feels is thhidden value to learning in the big leagues, rather than playing every day in the minors. "I'm happy with the way I've been playing here," he said, referring to time rather than numbers at this point.
"If you work hard enough before the games when you're noplaying, you can stay sharp," he said. "And talking to people like Glenn and Dwight Evans -- they've been a tremendous help.
"I can learn things here I could never learn in Triple A, even if I'not playing every day."
As for playing in the outfield, where he has succeeded RandMilligan as the experimental transfer from first base, Segui has no problems. "I came out of spring training with the confidence I could play out there," he said. "I'm not going to win any gold gloves [which he might do at first base someday] out there, but I'll make the routine plays and the extraordinary one every once in a while."
With more than a few timely hits tossed into the package.
Segui was only one of many who stood up to be counted lasnight. Ballard (3-6) retired 10 in a row and 16 of 17 before leaving in the seventh inning. Once the lefthander departed Oates continued his practice of going through the bullpen faster than water through a leaky faucet.
Mark Williamson provided early relief, but when he walked thfirst two hitters to lead off the eighth, Oates used three pitchers (Kevin Hickey, Todd Frohwirth and Flanagan) to get the next three hitters (Wade Boggs, Burks and Mike Greenwell).
"We walked too many guys at the end," Oates said of the onltwo the Orioles gave up all night. "The last thing in the world you want to do is walk the first two hitters with those guys coming up behind them. To get those three guys out without anybody advancing is quite an accomplishment."
Just like winning three in a row.