Segui embraces expanded role First baseman glad to still be Oriole

April 21, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

According to the information he had, David Segui figured last year would be his final season in Baltimore.

He didn't think the Orioles would keep him around to be a part-time player again, nor did he think the club would open the door of semi-opportunity by letting Randy Milligan go. But Segui was wrong, and not only is he still here, he's enjoying a sudden rash of playing time, starting his third straight game last night against the Chicago White Sox.

"I thought I was gone," Segui said, recalling his feelings of a year ago. "Based on everything I had read in papers and magazines, all indications were I'd be left unprotected [in the expansion draft] and I'd be the [first] one to go."

The opportunity to play every day was appealing, even if the location wasn't his first choice. "I like it here [Baltimore] and the people have been real good to me," he said. "I'd have missed playing here, but the chance to play every day was appealing."

As it developed, the Orioles not only protected Segui, they also declined to re-sign Milligan. That opened up a partial opportunity, enough to satisfy the switch-hitting first baseman.

"I'm comfortable backing up Glenn [Davis] this year and maybe getting a chance [to play regularly] next year," said Segui, 26. "We're going to be a contender."

And Segui is well aware that Davis can be a free agent after this season and his possible return will hinge on developments between now and the end of the year.

For the time being, Segui is trying to take advantage of his limited opportunities. He had reached base six straight times (three hits, three walks) in the two previous games before going 0-for-4 in last night against the White Sox.

"Any time you have some success, your confidence level naturally goes up," said Segui. "But 10 at-bats doesn't make a season. I'm just trying to do what I'm capable of doing."

One thing everybody knows Segui is capable of doing is playing defense. And most people are convinced he'll eventually be a sound big-league hitter.

Ever since he joined the Orioles in 1990, Segui has heard predictions he'd become a .300 hitter. He hasn't reached that mark yet, but has never had more than 212 at-bats (when he hit .278 in 1991).

"I'm confident I can do that [hit .300]," said Segui. "I've done it in the minor leagues [.317 at Single-A Frederick, .324 at Double-A Hagerstown and .336 at Triple-A Rochester]. I know there's a big difference between the minors and the big leagues and a lot of things have to be factored in, but I have confidence in my ability to hit."

So does manager Johnny Oates, but he's not in a position where he can guarantee, or even guess, how many at-bats Segui will get this year. He's gotten his recent opportunity partly because Harold Baines had a cortisone shot in his sore left knee and didn't play over the weekend.

"I really have no idea," said Oates. "It's not something I can project.

"It will be a question of at-bats as needed -- either by him to keep him sharp, or by me to have somebody to play."

Segui's playing time will depend to a great extent on the health of Davis and Baines. If both get their projected 500 to 600 plate appearances, Segui will be confined to a part-time role as late-inning defensive specialist and occasional starter, mostly against left-handed pitching.

"I think he can hit .300, or close to it, if he plays every day," Oates said of Segui. "He's not going to get a lot of extra-base hits -- he'll get some doubles, but not many home runs -- but he'll get his share of hits."

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