Baseball / Sports

Brewers shortstop's 9-month-old son dies

Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was touched by tragedy when he learned late Friday night that his 9-month-old son, Janniel, had died in the Dominican Republic.

The news came in the wake of the Brewers' 7-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park, a game that was decided in the ninth inning when Matt Holliday hit a two-out home run off closer Francisco Rodriguez.

"Seggy's mom (Maribel) and uncle are here," manager Ron Roenicke said on Saturday morning in addressing the situation for the first time with the media. He made only a brief statement following the game, and closed the clubhouse to media.

"We got word at the end of the game through his mom to one of the wives, and then the wife to her husband, and then to Seggy.

"So, obviously it's tough on him. He didn't learn about it until after the game was over and one of the players came over and told him."

There weren't many specifics available.

"He was sick," Roenicke said of Segura's son. "(Segura) was on the phone yesterday before the game, and they thought he was OK and getting better. I don't really know much more than that.

Centerfielder Carlos Gomez, who hails from the Dominican Republic as well and is a friend of Segura's, was designated as the team's spokesperson in the wake of the tragedy.

He, too, had a difficult time wrapping his mind around what had occurred as he spoke to reporters in the Brewers' dugout prior to Saturday's game.

"It's tough," said Gomez, who has two young boys of his own. "After I leave last night, I can't wait to come home and hug my kid and sleep with my kid. It's hard to imagine. It's painful.

"It's not my kid, but I feel like it."

Gomez said he had no idea anything was amiss until he emerged from the shower and saw Segura crying.

"I went up and asked him what's happening. He said, 'My child passed away,'" Gomez said. "When everybody found out what's going on, it's tough.

"I didn't have any details but I didn't want to ask him last night. I didn't want to talk too much. We just gathered around him and gave him support, and talked to him a little bit."

The Brewers' struggles – six straight losses and 10 of 11 – have been tough enough for the team to deal with. Then learning about Segura's family tragedy added a whole new layer of emotion.

"It's tough for everybody," Roenicke said. "It just kind of adds on. Everybody was feeling it to begin with, then you walk in after a tough loss and you hear more bad news. That's hard. I always talk about these guys being able to turn the page, and we will.

"It's harder, I think, for guys that have kids. They understand. You never know until you have a child what it must be like."

Added Gomez: "Today we feel like everybody wants to stay home. But it's a job. We have to finish (the first half). We'll come here for him and play hard, and get a 'W' today."

Roenicke, unfortunately, has experience dealing with tragedy in baseball. He was a coach with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2009 when pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver hours after making a start against the Oakland A's.

"The emotions are the same, but it's a little different," Roenicke said. "This affects one person; Adenhart affected the whole team. But I don't know what to expect. I don't know if he'll be back after the break.

"I don't know."

Segura has struggled all season on the field, hitting .232 with four home runs and 23 runs batted in while also having to take stitches to the face after being hit by a wayward warmup swing from Ryan Braun in the earlygoing.

But obviously that all pales in comparison to what the 24-year-old experiencing now.

"He's emotional, he's young," Roenicke said. "That's why when I tell you I don't know what's going to happen with him, I worry about him.

"Having his mom here certainly helps, and his uncle. His uncle was in town last time when he had the thing with getting hit and he went through that with him.

"He's young. These things aren't easy when we're our age. They're tough things."

There are no definitive plans at this point regarding Segura's return to the Brewers.

"He'll just have to make a decision where he's at and what he feels like," Roenicke said. "It's different with everybody. Some guys might feel like, 'Hey, I need to get back and I need to play,' and some other guys just can't do it."

Gomez doesn't know what to expect, either.

"I can't even imagine," he said. "If it's my kid, I'd probably stay home and not come back. I don't know how he's going to react. We'll just wait until he comes back. We're going to take care of him and help him to relax and enjoy life again."

The important thing, Gomez said, is Segura knows he has all the support he needs once he does return.

"We feel like he has another family here," he said. "Every teammate is part of my family. I spend more time with my teammates than my own family. When he comes back, I want to be like his brother and be by his side.

"I can't imagine when you lose a child, what's going to be in your mind and heart. It can be really tough. When you lose a child, it's hard."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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