This Marlin took a 'breather' to fix hitting

May 18th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola’s Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

What exactly does a breather entail?

Mired in the worst offensive stretch of his 12-year MLB career, Jean Segura received a three-day "break" last Tuesday through Thursday. Don't be fooled by the word.

Unlike other sports, baseball has games daily, so there isn't time for "practice," so to speak. In this case, a breather should be considered practice. Though Segura wasn't taking batting practice on the field with the club, he was inside the cages three to four hours before first pitch for 20-25 minutes with hitting coach Brant Brown. During games, Segura picked Brown's brain, often dissecting a pitcher's sequence to batters.

"I think it gives you a chance to sit back and observe a little bit, which can offer some clarity and kind of allows you to see the game outside of your own snow globe," Brown said. "And then just use your little peace of mind. We got back to work and came up with a plan of attack, and he's been really diligent to it the last few days."

Segura and Brown observed video of his swing when things have gone well, focusing on the lower half of his body not stepping forward too much and elevating the baseball a bit more. His launch angle of -0.9 degrees had led to a career-high 63.2 percent ground-ball rate.

The 33-year-old's struggles aren't for lack of effort. Even on last Thursday's off-day, Segura was hitting. Plus, he gets work in at Frank Valdez's facility with Luis Arraez.

"This guy is not OK with where he's at right now," manager Skip Schumaker said. "I think good things will happen to him, because I think just hard work equals good luck. And he's due for some good luck."

Since the breather, Segura's bat has shown life. He is 6-for-16 with five walks and just two strikeouts in five games. It couldn't come at a better time with Jazz Chisholm Jr., Avisaíl García and Jesús Sánchez sidelined with injuries.

"It stinks to sit down on the bench for two days in a row," said Segura, who couldn't recall getting a breather before in his career. "When they give you a breather, something is wrong with you. If not, they would put you in the lineup.

"I'm struggling. Mental wise, I'm really, really struggling. When you're struggling mental wise, it doesn't matter how much early work you do. It doesn't matter how much video you watch. First of all, you need to clear your mind and go there and produce. We'll see. I've been feeling much better since they gave me that breather. I've been swinging at better pitches in the zone and taking good pitches."