Even without Jean Segura's
injury history, it would have been a scary moment.
The Arkansas Travelers shortstop, a right-handed hitter, was facing Springfield Cardinals reliever Jorge Rondon on May 17 when he took a pitch to the head. The right-handed Rondon was struggling through an eighth inning that included a walk, two hits and a wild pitch when his fastball came in on Segura, ricocheted off his helmet and struck the press box more than 50 feet above home plate.
"It scared me," said Segura, who momentarily thought he was badly hurt. "It scared me a lot."
Thankfully Segura was speaking lucidly by the time manager Mike Micucci and trainer Mike Metcalfe reached him, but his day was done.
"He was kind of laughing a little bit, so we weren't too scared once we got to talk to him," Micucci said. "Any time a guy gets hit in the head, you pretty much want to make sure you take all the precautions, especially if it's a fastball."
Segura, who was back in the Travelers lineup the next night in his familiar spot atop the batting order, has had some interruptions due to injury during an otherwise standout career.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, Segura lost time to a broken ankle and finger in 2009 before a torn hamstring cost him all but 44 games last year. Still, the Angels have Segura on their 40-man roster, and he brought a career .316 average into this season.
"I've been hurt in the past couple years, and I can't do anything about that," said Segura, who's appeared in 60 of Arkansas' 61 games this season. "You can't control it. When I'm healthy, people know I'm going to be good."
"His No. 1 stat that he needs to look at, and we're going to look at, is games played," said Micucci. "The games category is the most important thing. If we can push him to 130-135 games, we'll be happy with that so he can get his 600 at-bats."
Last year's hamstring injury clearly behind him, Segura is hitting .277 and is second in the Texas League with 22 stolen bases.
"I always think I'm going to steal and I'm going to go to the next base," said Segura, who usually has the green light from Micucci. "That's what I do. If you're not hitting, you play good defense and try to make something happen to help your team win. That's what I've been doing all season."
"He's been a joy to have on the club," Micucci said.
Segura moved from second base to shortstop last year. To make room, the Angels moved Travelers Gold Glove shortstop Darwin Perez to second. Yet Segura, who is said to have the arm for third, isn't worried what position he's playing, as long as he's healthy and on the field.
"I don't care what position I play," Segura said. "My plan and my dream is to be [in the Majors]. I don't know how, I don't know where, but I want to go there."
Smooth 'Rider: Frisco right-hander Barret Loux became the first pitcher in baseball to win 11 games this season when the RoughRiders whitewashed San Antonio, 4-0, on Thursday. Loux, who is 11-0 with a 2.81 ERA in 12 starts, gave up two hits and four walks in five innings.
Twisting fowl: For one night Northwest Arkansas Naturals fans experienced what might have been. The Naturals played Friday's game as the "Thunder Chickens," complete with chicken-adorned uniforms, in a nod to a nickname suggested when the team moved from Wichita to Springdale, Ark., in 2008. The temporary moniker -- inspired by local weather and Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc. -- was a winner as the Thunder Chickens beat the Arkansas Travelers, 5-4, in 10 innings at Arvest Ballpark.
Unlucky 7: It was Mickey Mantle Night at Tulsa's ONEOK Field on Saturday, and the Tulsa Drillers paid tribute to the Oklahoma native and New York Yankees legend with a giveaway of No. 7 jerseys. But the Hall of Famer's fortunes didn't quite rub off as Springfield beat the home team, 4-3, and the Drillers fell out of first place for the first time this season.