02/08/11 1:48 PM EST
Snider working toward earning everyday role
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
The native of Washington has suffered through a variety of injuries and demotions, and this offseason, he was forced to deal with trade rumors that just wouldn't seem to go away.
Snider was frequently mentioned this offseason in possible trades with the D-backs for outfielder Justin Upton and the Royals for No. 1 starter Zack Greinke. The issue was most of those reports came from south of the border, and whenever the Blue Jays were asked if he was available, the message always remained the same -- he was off limits.
Snider said that type of confidence in him displayed by general manager Alex Anthopoulos has removed any doubt about his future role with the organization.
"I'm very thankful for the relationship that Alex and I have been able to develop," Snider said. "He has always been approachable, very easy to talk to, and we've had a great line of communication in the past two years since he has taken over.
"Their goals and their plans for me have been very clear. They want me to be a part of what they're doing here, but there are a lot of things that have to take place. I'm excited to have that opportunity, and any time your GM backs you like that, it's definitely a confidence booster."
Snider could easily be confused for a more experienced player these days, as he is already set to begin his fourth season in the Major Leagues. As can be expected with any promising prospect, though, his journey hasn't always been smooth.
After being selected 14th overall in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Snider rocketed through Toronto's Minor League system in just three years. He made his Major League debut in August 2008 when he was just 20. He appeared in only 24 games that season, but managed to hit .301 with two home runs and 13 RBIs.
Snider built on that success the following year, when he broke camp with the big league team and began the first three weeks of the season hitting .310 with a 1.026 OPS.
Just when it appeared he would become a mainstay in the Majors, his production began to slip. Over the next 18 games, he hit .193 and recorded just one extra-base hit. The struggles led to a surprise demotion, which would mark the beginning of a frustrating two years that were marred by injury.
First, it was a lower back injury in 2009 that forced him to miss a month. The following season, he was limited to just 82 games in part because of a right wrist injury and lingering pain in his thigh. He still managed to hit 14 home runs in 298 at-bats in the Majors in '10, so he knows the potential is there, it's just a matter of staying on the field to be able to prove it.
"I think your confidence is definitely boosted whenever you're able to perform for any period of time at that level," Snider said. "But it's about sustaining it over 162 games and staying healthy throughout the season and limiting the injuries to minor things that aren't going to keep me off the field. That's the No. 1 goal -- to be able to go out with your teammates every night and help your team win."
Snider may be one of the players who is most excited about being able to work with new manager John Farrell. Last season, the now-retired Cito Gaston frequently sat the former Minor League All-Star against left-handers and had him bat in six different spots in the batting order.
Farrell prefers to go with a more set lineup for all of his players -- not just the veterans -- and it's expected that Snider will be able to settle into a more secure role with the team. He doesn't know exactly where he'll be put in the lineup, but he's looking forward to working with the new Toronto skipper.
"I've had a few great conversations with John already," Snider said. "I know the opportunities are going to be there to play more often. Hopefully it will be in an everyday situation. That's their goal for me -- to be an everyday player -- and that's something I'll have to continue to work towards and earn.
"What John brings to the table is really going to help, not only as a former pitching coach in the AL East, but someone you can talk to and really get good feedback from."
Snider's role in the outfield isn't solidified with less than two weeks to go until Spring Training. He has the ability to play both corner outfield spots, but at this point in time, there has been no official announcement of which position he'll be at on Opening Day.
As can be expected, though, that issue isn't exactly an area of concern. Right now, his focus is getting in the lineup on a regular basis, and he says it doesn't matter where he plays.
"Nothing has been set in stone yet," Snider said. "I know I'm going down there with the mindset to work, whether that's in right or left field. There are going to be extra days and extra hours put in, because I know that's what I need to do to continue to learn and continue to get better. Wherever they put me, I'm happy; I just want to play as much as possible at this point."