- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Every loss by the Baltimore Orioles last season might have hurt David Segui twice as much as it did his teammates.
Sidelined nearly all season after suffering an injury to a tendon in his left wrist sliding home in late April, Segui was forced to watch the Orioles stumble horrifically down the stretch and finish 67-95 after playing .500 ball earlier. The injury and the losing tore him up.
"I was frustrated, especially when you come off the season before where you had injuries, too," Segui said. "I haven't figured out how to work yourself through injuries without going crazy. Any guy who wants to play every day, it's going to drive him insane sitting there watching."
Segui must have been ready to be committed by the end of last season. After signing a four-year, $28million contract in December 2000 to return to the franchise with which he started his career in 1988, Segui has missed time with various injuries. A solid switch-hitter with a .292 career average and one of the best fielding first basemen in the game, Segui has played in only 108 of a possible 323 games over the last two seasons.
After some intensive rehabilitation on the wrist throughout last season and an injury-free offseason and camp so far, Segui is gearing up for a healthy 2003, one he and the Orioles would love.
Asked if he's looking forward to the season, Segui exclaimed, "Oh my God, yeah. There's only been short periods of time where we've had a lineup in place where I can be a key bat in the middle. … I look forward to that, seeing how that affects the rest of the lineup. A bat here, a bat there does make a difference."
The Orioles are banking heavily on Segui after having a mostly punchless offense the last two seasons. Their focus throughout the offseason has centered on bringing in a power hitter. But considering how much time Segui has missed, it will be almost as if Baltimore has added a valuable free agent if he stays healthy.
Segui likely will bat in the three-hole with Jeff Conine hitting cleanup, manager Mike Hargrove said yesterday. Hargrove also likes Segui better as a designated hitter than at first base, though things could change. Segui enters the season with the fourth-best fielding percentage among first basemen who have played 1,000 games (99.53 percent).
But his consistency on the field has been mirrored by consistent health problems the last two years:
Late April 2001: Strained extensor tendon of the middle finger of his left hand when it was stepped on after sliding into second base during a double play. (Missed 19 games.)
Late July 2001: Sprained medial collateral ligament in left knee while taking a swing. (Missed 21 games.)
Early August 2001: Inner ear infection. (Missed six games.)
Late August 2001: Sore left knee. (Missed 22 games and underwent postseason surgery to remove two small particles from the knee.)
Late April 2002: Injury to left wrist tendon. (Missed 122 games.)
While rehabilitating last season, Segui would look ahead and circle possible return dates on the calendar to give himself something to work toward even though he never played.
"I'd just keep pushing it further and further along, and eventually you just run out of season," Segui said.
As frustrated as he has been, Segui can take solace in the fact that most of his injuries have come by bad luck, not because he was been out of shape.
"How do you avoid sliding into home plate and screwing up your wrist?" Segui said. "There's nothing you can do, no amount of conditioning that can help that. I've been in good condition throughout my career. Avoiding the fluky, freaky injuries that seem to find me [is] going to be key."


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