04/13/2013 4:27 PM ET
Hoping to build on rookie year, Segura off to hot start
By Steve Overbey / Special to MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Jean Segura entered this season with a modest goal.
The Milwaukee shortstop simply hoped to improve on the .264 batting average compiled during his rookie campaign last year.
"I just wanted to get better," he said. "Maybe get my average up near the top."
Well, Segura isn't near the top of the National League in hitting -- he is the top.
The San Juan native carried a .429 mark into play Saturday, well ahead of Cubs catcher Welington Castillo at .414.
Segura drove in 14 runs during his 44-game rookie season. Yet those solid numbers did not sit well with the 23-year-old.
"I felt like I had to do more to help the team," he said. "That's what I'm trying to do this whole season, just help the team a little more."
Segura has been on fire since Opening Day. He's hit safely in eight of nine contests and started the year with a hit in his first five games.
In addition, he has excelled defensively with only one error in 35 chances. Segura turned in a pair of highlight-reel-worthy plays in the Brewers' 2-0 loss at St. Louis on Friday. Plus, he had one of his team's two hits -- a ninth-inning single off reliever Mitchell Boggs that set up a potential rally.
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke has been impressed with Segura since he was called up on August 8, 2012.
"He's really played well for a long period of time going back to winter ball and Spring Training," Roenicke said. "He's got tremendous range and a great arm. He can make some plays that not too many guys can make."
Segura's newfound hitting prowess has helped turn him into a multi-threat player.
"His defense is already great and offensively, he's just going to get better," Roenicke said. "We'll see, but we're happy with what we have so far."
Segura was signed by the Angels as a non-drafted free agent on January 22, 2007. After six years in that organization, he came to Milwaukee on July 27, 2012, along with pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena in exchange for Zack Greinke.
Gonzalez held out of lineup Saturday after HBP
ST. LOUIS -- Brewers infielder Alex Gonzalez was held out of Saturday's game at St. Louis after he was hit on the hand by a pitch in Friday's contest.
Gonzalez, who started all nine previous games this season, is hoping to return to the lineup Sunday.
The 36-year-old veteran took a pitch from Cardinals fireballer Shelby Miller off the hand in the second inning. He played in the field in the bottom of the frame, but had difficulty swinging in the cage.
Gonzalez was removed from the contest before the bottom of the third. His hand was still slightly swollen on Saturday, although he indicated that the swelling had gone down considerably.
"It's still bruised and a little sore," he said. "Hoping for tomorrow."
Gonzalez has started at three positions this season -- first and third base and shortstop. He is hitting .138 with one homer and four RBIs.
"He tried to swing the bat [today] in the cages, and it was still pretty sore," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Entering this season, Gonzalez had played exclusively at shortstop in 1,536 games during his 14-year career.
Roenicke shakes up lineup with Lalli, Schafer
ST. LOUIS -- Rookie first baseman Blake Lalli got his first start of the season Saturday.
Lalli saw his first game action Friday, taking over at first when third baseman Alex Gonzalez was hit by a pitch from St. Louis pitcher Shelby Miller. Lalli went 0-for-2.
Signed as a free agent in November, Lalli made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs last season on May 18. He hit .133 in six games.
Lalli said that getting into Friday's contest for six innings helped him prepare for his debut.
"I'm relaxed," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and enjoy it."
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke also inserted outfielder Logan Schafer into the lineup Saturday in hopes of waking up a slumping offense.
"It doesn't hurt to get a few different bats in the lineup," he said.
Schafer started one game in left field this season. He is 1-for-4 in a pinch-hitting role.
Steve Overbey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.