03/13/2013 6:16 PM ET
Matured Snider trying to stick with Pirates
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- In some ways, Travis Snider's life is completely different. But in other ways, it has remained exactly the same.
Toronto's former No. 1 prospect is still battling for playing time, still part of a young core that operates on a relatively tight budget and still calls Central Florida home during the spring.
The difference this year, though, is that he's doing it while wearing yellow and black instead of Blue Jays' royal blue.
"That first time putting on a different color uniform is something you won't forget," said Snider, who was traded to Pittsburgh last July for right-hander Brad Lincoln.
"But spending the last couple of months of the season, the offseason, Spring Training, I've been able to develop some good relationships with not only the players but the coaching staff. The goal here every day is to get better as a whole unit and looking forward to seeing how things play out."
Even though it seems like he's been around for a while, Snider is only 25 years old, and there's plenty of time to establish himself. But when it comes to his time in Toronto, he's most often used as a cautionary tale for what happens when teams rush prospects to the big leagues before they're ready.
The Blue Jays drafted Snider in 2006, and two years later he was making his debut at age 20. Throughout his struggles, there were concerns about an inconsistent approach at the plate and an apparent lack of ability to hit the curveball.
But instead of being able to being able to work through the issues at one level, Snider was constantly shuffled back and forth between the Majors and Minors. Along the way, there were disagreements with the coaching staff and perceived mixed messages being sent from the front office.
There were plenty of mistakes made by both sides, and Snider has never shied away from admitting where he went wrong.
"There were times, as I've spoken to before, my focus was outside of things that I can control and things that I could have done better," Snider said. "But as a young man maturing in the game, you have to learn by experience.
"You can be as mature off the field, deal with the things I dealt with in my personal life, but until you go through baseball adversity -- that's what molds us into young men and hopefully makes us stay around this game for a long time."
One thing Snider likely won't have to worry about -- at least for now -- is being sent to the Minor Leagues. He's out of options on his contract and cannot be demoted without first clearing waivers. That move remains unlikely, and Snider finds himself in position to potentially win the starting job in right field with Pittsburgh. The options -- or lack thereof -- worked against Snider in the past, but now they could be used to his advantage, even if he's trying not to think about it that way.
"The option thing is something that every player has to go through at some point of their career," Snider said. "Some guys are fortunate to play well enough in their first couple of years [that] you don't have to deal with it. As I realized, the No. 1 thing is that you play better, you don't worry about that kind of stuff.
"To play better you have to focus on each and every day. Not having that situation from a business standpoint, but I don't look at it as an advantage per se ... I have to validate my job in whatever my role is going to be with the team and make sure that I'm doing everything I can to prepare myself."
Lind having no trouble finding groove at plate
BRADENTON, Fla. -- It's a far cry from being Mr. October, but Adam Lind seems to have this Spring Training thing down to a science.
Lind entered play Wednesday afternoon hitting .440, which ranks fourth among all qualified batters during the Grapefruit League season.
The feat is something Lind has a track record with, considering since 2011 he has arguably been Toronto's best spring hitter -- as evidenced by his .359 (46-for-128) overall average.
"He is really focused right now," manager John Gibbons said. "He's in good shape. I think from Day 1, what does he need to do, I remember Adam was a guy that used the whole field. He has power to all fields and he's doing that.
"When I saw him a bit in Kansas City, when I was there, it looked like he was strictly pulling the ball. When he's using the whole field, that's when he's really dangerous."
Lind continued his hot streak versus the Pirates on Wednesday, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
If that's going to continue during the regular season, Lind will need to maintain a similar approach at the plate. There's been plenty of talk during Spring Trainings the past few years about getting him to hit to all fields, but it hasn't necessarily carried over into the season.
Gibbons, though, doesn't think it should be a difficult adjustment to become that type of all-around hitter once again.
"No, because he has done that before," Gibbons said. "A lot of guys will come up through the Minor Leagues and they're strictly pull hitters. They don't have the ability to use the whole field like that. Those guys don't have anything to fall back on."
Blue Jays release former first-round pick Cooper
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Blue Jays officially cut ties with David Cooper on Wednesday morning by releasing their former first-round pick.
Cooper originally had been expected to start the year at Triple-A Buffalo but was unable to participate in Spring Training because of a back injury.
The Blue Jays described the back problem as serious and said Cooper was in the process of setting up appointments with several specialists. He is not expected to play this season, and it's unclear when Cooper will be able to resume his baseball career.
Cooper suffered a back injury late last season while diving into first base on a pickoff attempt. It was originally described as a jammed neck, but later changed to discomfort in his upper back area.
Toronto has since been vague on the exact nature of Cooper's injury. The club said he has yet to undergo surgery, but it appears as though that still remains a possibility.
The loss of Cooper represents a blow to the club's overall depth. Cooper would have been in line for a promotion if either Adam Lind or Edwin Encarnacion suffered an injury this season. That job will now instead be handed to Minor Leaguers Luis Jimenez or Lars Anderson.
Cooper enjoyed a decent amount of success during his limited action in the big leagues. From 2011-12, he hit .270 with a .750 OPS while recording six homers and 23 RBIs in 72 games.
The native of California came up through the Blue Jays' system with a reputation of being a solid contact hitter with a good eye at the plate. It remains to be seen, though, whether he'll ever hit for enough power to be productive at first in the Majors.