PHOENIX — Rob Segedin is more of a known quantity than he was a year ago, and is still finding ways to get noticed in Dodgers camp.
He has hit the ball hard all spring, and the results have followed. Segedin is 9-for-19 (.474) with two home runs, three doubles, and two walks in Dodgers camp, something he attributes to adjustments he made this winter.
"I changed my swing path this offseason, trying to be a little more linear, and be able to still square up balls when my timing is off,” Segedin said. “At the beginning it was on and off, and there was a lot of tinkering. I'm at a point now where I'm pretty comfortable with it, and I know what I need to do moving forward.”
"Last year he had trouble with the ball on the inner half of the plate when he got to us,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He's cleaned that up.”
Last year, he was a 27-year-old journeyman who had yet to reach the majors. But he hit well in camp, and continued to rake in Triple-A, and made his major league debut in August.
"He was off the radar for us last year, and had a big camp,” Roberts recalled.
This year, Segedin showed up to camp looking to build on is strong 2016.
"He really takes care of his body. He's leaned out, become a little bit more athletic. Last year he was a lot bigger,” Roberts said. “He's moving around the diamond. I think he can be adequate at a lot of places around the diamond.”
Roberts said Segedin has even taken ground balls this spring at second base, a position he has never played in the majors or minors. Segedin does play all the corner spots in the infield and outfield, which gives him the utility required for a bench spot on this roster.
“He's a guy you root for. I don't know how it's going to play out right now, but he's done himself a good service by being able to play third and any of the corners,” Roberts said. “He's really taken it upon himself to add that versatility defensively.”
So far this spring, Segedin has played 29 innings at third base, 10 innings at first base, and three innings in left field.
“There are a lot of guys here. They've made some offseason signs to boost the depth. For me, you've still got to win a job. There's no job given to you,” Segedin said. “You've got to continue to make an impression, and show the coaches you belong.”
Hitting .312/.386/.551 against left-handed pitching in the majors and minors combined last season helps make an impression, too.
Segedin also got some exposure during the World Baseball Classic, batting cleanup for Team Italy during Pool D play in Jalisco, Mexico.
"That first night we were playing in front of Mexico, with 25,000 screaming fans who wanted Mexico to win so bad. It's something you don't get at spring training, no matter what field you're at or where you're playing,” Segedin said. “It puts you in a high-intensity, playoff-like atmosphere where every single pitch matters, and any game could be decided by any small event. It was fun to play in, and a great experience.”
But while trying to earn a major league roster spot, did leaving Dodgers camp for a week and a half hurt Segedin’s chances? He doesn’t think so — and when asked, Roberts has said as much, too.
"With the way video is these days, they can watch every single one of my at-bats. Obviously, you'd like to be here in front of their eyes and on their program, but I faced big league pitchers trying to get you out,” Segedin said. “There is a lot more intensity, and a different atmosphere than spring training. It helped me a lot more than it hurt me.”
Segedin was 3-for-13 (.231) with a home run, a double and three walks in the World Baseball Classic, and in his four games batted against nine major league pitchers — Yovani Gallardo, Carlos Torres, Sergio Romo, Martin Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Berrios, Deolis Guerra and Jose Alvarez.
"It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I'm grateful the Dodgers gave me an opportunity to go and play for Team Italy,” Segedin said. “It was truly one of the best experiences I've had in all of baseball.”