In-game chats in the past for Snider
Gaston doesn't want to overload slumping Jays outfielder
TORONTO -- After a getting off to a hot start to the season, Blue Jays rookie Travis Snider has slowed down at the plate. To help him get through his slump, manager Cito Gaston has started to take a more hands-off approach with the 21-year-old left fielder.
Gaston said he used to talk to Snider during games, but has stopped doing so since the team's road trip in Kansas City at the end of April. Gaston said Snider may have been suffering from a case of information overload as he tried to absorb in-game hitting lessons from Toronto's coaching staff.
"He felt like that it was too much information right now," Gaston said. "So we're just kind of letting him go and see what he can do. [Hitting coach Gene Tenace] still works with him as far as mechanics and stuff, but as far as talking to him during the game, I don't talk to him anymore.
"You can talk to him after the game about what he's doing -- during the game, it's a little too much for him."
Said Snider: "There's a lot of knowledge, a lot of answers out there. But as soon as you start to question yourself ... you kind of start getting inside your own head and trying to change seven things instead of just going out there to hit."
Snider, the Jays' first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, and the game's sixth-best prospect according to Baseball America, started the season batting .348 in his first eight games, with three home runs and a slugging percentage of .913. Going into Tuesday's tilt, however, he was hitting only .166 and slugging .180 through his previous 15 games. He has not homered since April 13.
When asked if the dropoff in his numbers was due to a change in the way pitchers pitch to him, Snider said it was more an issue of trying to tinker with his approach too much and not sticking to a plan, rather than anything opposing pitchers are doing.
"It's more what's been going on in my own head," Snider said.
Despite Snider's recent struggles, Gaston has no plans to take him out of the lineup, and feels that giving the rookie a day or two off to sit back and watch the team will not help.
"I don't find sitting does any good for guys," Gaston said. "It just gets them there thinking about a whole lot of stuff that they shouldn't be thinking about. ... You don't swing sitting."
The only reason Gaston can see to change Snider's role on the team is if the rookie's struggles hurt his confidence, which the manager said has not been the case so far.
"If he loses all his confidence, then you've got to think about doing something," Gaston said. "[We] just don't want to kill his heart and certainly his chances of being a good baseball player, which I think he will be.
"He's still got his head up. He's a tough kid."
At most, Gaston said he would try to avoid having Snider, who bats left-handed, face left-handed pitchers. That has been Gaston's strategy for much of the season so far, with Jose Bautista usually taking Snider's place in the lineup with a southpaw starting against the Jays.
Snider may have a little more leeway than some of Toronto's pitchers, such as David Purcey, who was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday after struggling with his command.
"Taxing the bullpen and not throwing strikes is very difficult for guys playing defense," Gaston said. "It gets your guys back on their heels; they're not ready to make plays. That's affecting more than one person, when that happens. Right now, with Snider, that's just affecting him. It affects the team, too ... But more so, it affects the team when guys don't throw strikes."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.