1st no more, Segui has mixed feelings about O's future

February 24, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

SARASOTA, FLA — SARASOTA, Fla. -- By now, David Segui is used to being part of the background.

In springs past there were always hints that he had an uncertain future with the Orioles. First it was Randy Milligan, then Glenn Davis who kept Segui from getting to first base.

He was the perennial backup until last year, when Segui played on a regular basis for the first time in the major leagues. And he had, easily, his best year, hitting .273, with 10 home runs and 60 RBIs.

At the age of 27, he figures to improve. But he won't have that opportunity with the Orioles. And he knows it.

This year the message couldn't be clearer if it was stamped ohis forehead. Barring injury, there is no room for Segui in the Orioles' regular lineup. He knows it, and even says he understands.

"If you have the chance to sign a guy who hit 30 home run[Rafael Palmeiro], you do it," Segui said yesterday after reporting to camp a day early. "I was prepared for it as soon as they started talking about Will Clark.

"It seemed like all the top hitters available [in the free-agenmarket] were first basemen. So, I knew if we signed somebody it would be a first baseman.

"It's kind of disappointing," said Segui, a slick-fieldinswitch-hitter. "But I've got to do what I've got to do. I'm too young to be sitting. If I was older, it wouldn't bother me that much.

"We [he and agent Tommy Tanzer] have asked for a trade, anRoland [Hemond, general manager] has promised he'd keep his ears open. I don't know what to expect, but Roland has always been truthful with me."

However, even though he's asked to be traded, Segui admithe's not completely in favor of that possibility. "I really have mixed emotions about it," he said. "It's hard even to think about it.

"When it looked like the deal with the Mets [for outfielder BobbBonilla] was going to go through, part of me was happy, but another part was really sad.

"I've gotten to know all these guys and some of them are likbrothers," said Segui, who has been in the Orioles' organization throughout his six-year career. "I've developed some strong relationships, the people in the town have been good to me and my family, and we play in the best stadium in baseball.

"There's so much to like, it would be tough to go. My agendoesn't like to hear this, but if they wanted to extend my contract and give me decent money, I'd do it -- because I'd like to be here when this team wins."

The Orioles are aware of Segui's predicament, and in some wayfeel almost an obligation to give him an opportunity to play. But, even as a reserve, he has enough value that the club isn't going to give him away.

"You can't be so benevolent to do a favor that would hurt thclub,"said Hemond. "You can't make promises. Realistically, as a young switch-hitter who can play the outfield, he has value to us -- as he would to other clubs."

Although saying he cannot give Segui a role that would satisfhis desires for playing time, manager Johnny Oates said he certainly would help. "I could use him as a switch-hitter off the bench, get him some at-bats as a right-handed designated hitter and, if the situation presented itself, possibly use him some in the outfield," said Oates.

"I don't think it would be a role David would be excited or happabout, because he had a little taste of the honey [playing regularly] last year.

"But there is something to be said for being on a winner. My jowould be to cultivate that feeling he has about wanting to remain a part of this team," said Oates.

Immediately after the Orioles signed Palmeiro, Oates calleSegui at his home in Kansas City, Kan. "He was worried that I would be upset," said Segui. "But I realize it's part of baseball.

"I told Johnny then that if they wanted to use me in the outfield, would have no problem with that. But they were uncertain of their outfield situation at the time, and couldn't make any promises. I understand that."

Segui realizes he's in an awkward position. Whether he staywith the Orioles or moves on there's going to be a mixture of happiness and disappointment. "That's the nature of baseball," he said.

not going to affect my approach. I love to play the game and I've never had trouble motivating myself. I'm my own harshest critic. I take pride in what I do, and if you do everything half-hearted, you don't deserve to be here.

"Baseball is too good a game, too big a game, to take lightly. If I can please myself, then I could give a hoot what anybody else thinks."

Although it's difficult, Segui's approach is to try to ignore tradpossibilities and concentrate on preparing for the season -- wherever he may be. "I don't think about what teams might need a first baseman," he said.

"My agent keeps me informed of all that, but I try to stay awafrom that stuff. It gives me a headache."

Regardless of how things develop, Segui knows he's in win-lose situation.

He would like to be part of a championship team with the Orioles. He also would like to enhance his career by getting the opportunity to play every day.

He can't have both and he knows it, so David Segui will play thhand he is dealt.

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