WASHINGTON -- Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was back where he felt he was supposed to be Friday, where he felt he needed to be. Surrounded by teammates during early batting practice at Nationals Park, the 24-year-old stood in the sunshine with a bat in his hand, his now-trademark neon yellow "Seggy" T-shirt on his back and a big smile on his face.
"It's awesome," Segura said. "You come here to the locker room, they hug you. I feel like they are my family, too. I feel pretty good. They make me feel strong, like, 'Wow, those guys care about me, too.'"
Those Brewers teammates had been hurting for Segura since he received the news exactly one week earlier that his 9-month-old son, Janniel, had passed away suddenly in the Dominican Republic.
Segura departed the following morning and was placed on the bereavement list. On Friday, when the Brewers resumed play after the All-Star break, he was not only back on the active roster, but in the starting lineup and batting eighth against the Washington Nationals.
He received a warm ovation from Nationals fans when Segura stepped to the plate in the second inning.
"I [heard]," said Segura, who finished 1-for-4 with an infield single awarded after an overturned call. "I had to breathe a little bit and just look up and let it go a little bit. I feel pretty good. It feels awesome to me that people worry about the players."
Segura was added to the lineup after meeting earlier in the day with Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and general manager Doug Melvin, who wanted to see for themselves how the shortstop was doing. Segura expressed what he had told Roenicke over the telephone two nights earlier -- that he wanted to resume the routine of baseball.
Segura actually rejoined the team on Thursday, when the team bussed to the Milwaukee airport to catch its chartered flight. Several teammates characterized the scene as subdued.
"He had a seat by himself [on the plane] and I said, 'Hi," Aramis Ramirez said. "It's a big deal [to have him back], but at the same time, it's some personal stuff. You don't want to get into it if he doesn't want to talk about that. It's his business. I think it's good he wanted to go back to baseball."
Said Carlos Gomez: "I told him, 'Remember you have a friend. Whatever you need, I'm available any time.' That's it. I didn't ask him what happened. Nothing like that."
And Jonathan Lucroy: "I didn't really say much. I just gave him a hug. There's nothing you can say. All you can do is try to support him. That's pretty much it."
Lucroy was asked about Segura's desire to immediately rejoin the starting lineup.
"You know what?" Lucroy said in response. "All of us have been playing this game since we were little kids. For me, this is all I know. [Speaking] personally, for myself. I know him, and this is probably all he knows, too. So this is all a distraction from 'real life' -- playing baseball."
Segura certainly appreciated the well-wishes from his teammates.
"They've been helping me since the first time I stepped into the Brewers' [organization]," said Segura, who was acquired in a July 2012 trade with the Angels and debuted with Milwaukee that August. "I don't imagine how important they've been to me in my career so far. [Some of them] are dads. They have sons, too. They know how to take care of guys. For me, they've been the best teammates I've had so far, because they always support me in everything. They talk to me. They're like family."
What else helped Segura get through the past week?
"God," he said. "God helped me to get through this. My family, my friends, my teammates, the organization. This is something I can't control. I just pray to God to get me through the right way. Whatever he gives to us is the best way in life.
"It's important to me and to members of my family [for me to play Friday]. It was a tough moment for me and my family, but being here is awesome -- in the same locker room with my friends and teammates, to see the support they all give to me, even other teams. The Cardinals [who posted support on social media and also passed a verbal message from ace Adam Wainwright], when I read that and heard about that, that they care about me, I feel good. I feel strong to be here, to work, and do the best I can to help the team."
During their afternoon chat in the visiting manager's office at Nationals Park, Melvin reiterated that the Brewers have resources available to Segura and his family, including director of psychological services Matt Krug. Segura's mother and uncle, who happened to be in Milwaukee the night Segura learned of his son's passing, will probably remain in the U.S. for the remainder of the season.
"We told him if there's every a time where he needs a day off or whatever [to ask for it]," Melvin said. "Sometimes you rush back. But he was very adamant in saying, 'I'm ready.'"
Roenicke plans to pencil Segura into the lineup until told otherwise.
"I said, 'There's going to be some days you're going to struggle, and you need to come in and talk to me,'" Roenicke said. "I don't want to go to him too much, because every time you do, then he's thinking about it. I don't think that's the way to do it."
Segura plans to stick it out the rest of the season, but he will "take it day by day. I feel strong. They're going to support me, [give me] what I need. I'm here to work. That's what we're here for. If I say, 'I'm ready to go,' I'm ready."
"He seems strong," Gomez said. "The way he's handled it like that, it's impressive. I'm proud of him to do this."