- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Years from now, when David Segui is no longer playing baseball and instead is playing (in his own words) "Mr. Mom," the Baltimore Orioles first baseman may ponder what was his best season.
Safe to say it won't be 2001.
"The most frustrating season of my career," Segui said without hesitation.
Where to begin? How about the hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of spring training? Or the finger tendon he strained in late April? Maybe the sprained left knee that nagged him all season and led to a late July stint on the disabled list? Don't forget the mysterious bout of vertigo in August. And of course, the recurrence of the knee injury that limited him to one game after Aug.23 and ultimately led to offseason surgery.
Was Segui ever 100 percent?
"Oh, no," he said. "There were days when it felt good enough to get out there, and it would just go downhill from there. I'd get shots to get it to the point where I could play. But it was constantly up and down."
When the Orioles signed Segui to a four-year, $28 million contract in December 2000, they thought they had themselves an outstanding first baseman and key run producer. They didn't think they had a guy who would play only half a season and they suffered for it.
In 82 games with Segui, the Orioles were 38-44, batted .261 and scored 4.7 runs a game. Without him, they were 25-54, hit .235 and averaged 3.8 runs.
"You can understand the importance of having him in the lineup," teammate Jeff Conine said. "He just makes everyone around him more dangerous."
For Segui, who returned to Baltimore after seven years shuttling among six teams, the lost season was torture.
"It's frustrating when you prepare yourself all winter to play a full season, to do what you love to do, and then you're not able to do it," he said. "All of us in here love to play, and we want to be on the field as much as we can. The most frustrating part of getting old, I think, is your body doesn't let you do as much as you'd like to."
Segui hopes offseason surgery to remove two small particles from his left knee the fifth knee operation of his career will keep him healthy through the season, though given the nature of the 35-year-old's injury, a full recovery is not possible.
"The problem is that I don't have any cartilage. My kneecap is bone on bone," he said. "There's constant grinding, and there's really nothing you can do about it."
Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove hinted this winter that he may use Segui more at designated hitter than at first base, where he owns the all-time highest fielding percentage among players with a minimum of 1,000 games.
"I told him that the main thing we need to do is keep his bat in the lineup as much as we possibly can," Hargrove said. "And with the condition of his knees they're not terrible we need to do things other than give him days off to keep his bat in the lineup."
Segui has remained diplomatic about the subject, but given the choice he prefers to play in the field.
"Wherever he puts me is where he puts me," he said. "I don't make the lineup out. I'm a first baseman, but if they decide to DH me, that's OK."
No matter whether he plays first base or DH, Segui's greatest contribution to the Orioles this season will be his mere presence in a lineup that sorely needed him last year.
"We can't have 83 games from Segui," vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift said. "We need 150."
Notes Dominican Ed Rogers finally appeared at camp yesterday, more than two weeks after other position players reported, and acknowledged for the first time that he is 23 years old, not 20 as he had been listed.
Rogers, one of Baltimore's top shortstop prospects, joins more than 50 foreign ballplayers who have battled visa and age problems this spring. The reason for his late arrival in Fort Lauderdale, he said, was not the discrepancy in his age but the long lines at the Dominican consulate, with security at an all-time high following September 11.
Though he has now added three years to his age, Rogers, who likely will begin the season at Class AA Bowie, said it will not change his approach on the field.
"I just have to play baseball," he said. "I have to come in here and do my work. I believe nothing happened to my skills, so I don't have a problem with [his increased age]." Rogers underwent his team physical and is expected to be in uniform today. …
Scott Erickson, making his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in August 2000, allowed one run and five hits in three innings as the Orioles tied the Boston Red Sox 1-1 in a game called after seven innings because of rain. Erickson had his sinker working as seven of the nine outs he recorded came on grounders.

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