Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura returned to the baseball field on Friday night for the first time since his 9-month-old son, Janniel, passed away a week ago. The former All-Star walked to the plate in the top of the second inning to an extended ovation from the 39,373 in attendance.
Segura took a moment to take it all in as he then got back to work to face Stephen Strasburg.
"I heard it a little bit. I just breathed a little bit, looked up and let it go a little bit," he said.
Segura left the Brewers after hearing the news last Friday. He was placed on the bereavement list as he went back to the Dominican Republic to be with family. Before Friday's game he was activated and placed back into the lineup by manager Ron Roenicke.
"It was really nice," Roenicke said of the fans' support. "It shows a lot about what the people think is important. I liked it, that was pretty cool."
Segura said he was touched by the gesture from Nationals fans, especially given it came on the road.
"It's amazing. When players have that experience in that position, it's tough. [The fans] know how difficult it is this game and how hard we go out there and compete."
Center fielder Denard Span was glad the Nationals fans showed their support for Segura.
"I thought that was classy by our fans, just to acknowledge what he's going through. I can't even imagine. But for him to be on the road and for our fans to have the knowledge of what he's going through, that's definitely not going to make him feel better, but hopefully he appreciated it just a little bit."
After Segura's lineout to end the top of the second inning, Nationals players Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper ran up to him as he ran to the dugout to share their condolences. Segura appreciated that, as well.
"They pat me on my back and their teammates said they are sorry to me, they are sorry what happened. I feel pretty good that they did that. I appreciate that support that they give to me today."
Roenicke explains why Storen and Stammen's glove laces were cut
In the Nationals' 4-2 loss to the Brewers on Friday night, relievers Drew Storen and Craig Stammen pitched the eighth and ninth innings, and both were subjected to a rarely enforced rule in Major League Baseball.
Both Nats pitchers were ordered to shorten the extra laces on their gloves and each had head trainer Lee Kuntz run out with a pair of scissors to cut them.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke explained after the game that it was not he or his coaching staff that made the request. He said it was home plate umpire Chad Fairchild's call, that the laces needed to be shortened. MLB rules players not have laces too long as they can obstruct the view on replay calls.
"To tell you the truth, I don't know. I wasn't looking, but they said the string was too long," Roenicke said.
"I guess it came from Chad [Fairchild] from behind the plate because I don't think we said anything. I'm glad he did because guys just do it. I don't want to have to come out and complain about a guy's glove, that the strings are too long. The umpires are looking at it, I think that was good of Chad to do that. I wish more guys would do it."
Nationals manager Matt Williams explained the rule further:
"It’s a directive from Major League Baseball regarding replay. So, umpire’s discretion. If the strings are too long and there’s a replay issued, let’s say there’s a swipe tag and the pitcher’s covering home plate and the string touches a baserunner, the umpire must rule him out. So directive has come from Major League Baseball to shorten those up a little bit."
Roenicke said he had seen the rule in action before, as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle requested umpires look at a Brewers' relievers glove early last season. Roenicke, however, reiterated his approval of the decision.
"I just hate to go out and complain about something like that. They know the rule, my gosh, just shorten it up a little bit."