Playing Out the String but Travis Snider Returns, in Print

Tuesday, September 25 2012 @ 10:20 AM EDT

Contributed by: Gerry

The Jays win, the Jays win, the-e-e-e-e Jays win!   Ricky Romero got a win, his first since June.  I believe that puts the Romero plus Morrow combined win total since June at three.  The Jays are playing out the string and the commentary suggests it gives the Jays a chance to look at the kids.  well they are getting a good look, but it doesn't give us a lot of hope for the start of 2013.

Meanwhile Shi Davidi has a three parter on what happened with Travis Snider and there are some good insider stories in part one.

In part one of the three part story Snider describes his ascent to the major leagues and the challenges he faced with Cito Gaston and Gene Tenace.

Snider’s mind is racing, unsure of what to make of the words just spoken.

Barely two hours into his first day in the big-leagues, having just finished a second round in the batting cage at Yankee Stadium the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2008, the much-hyped 20-year-old prospect is staring at Blue Jays hitting coach Gene Tenace in disbelief.

"Have you always finished your swing with two hands?’" Snider remembers the veteran coach asking. "I said, ‘Yes I have, my whole life.’

He said, ‘You might want to change that if you want to stay at this level.’"

Instantly their relationship was broken, before it had started, even if as it turned out, Tenace’s first impression was right. Snider, the native of Kirkland, Wash., chosen 14th overall in the 2006 draft and widely regarded as its top high-school hitter, tore through the Blue Jays system in less than three years, climbing four levels in 2008 alone.

He arrived in the majors with an upright stance and a swing that led him to often muscle balls, but one that would also eventually keep him from catching up to fastballs inside, a bone of contention for both Tenace and Gaston. A problem they encountered, and not just with Snider, was often in how their messages were delivered.

Now retired, Tenace denies telling Snider to change his finish, though he remembers saying "sometimes you’re releasing (the bat) too soon and I told him it could be a problem from where it is. I might have brought it up to him, but I never told him he had to change it."


There is more where that came from:

Already losing patience with his role on the team, things went from bad to worse for Snider when he reached his breaking point with the plan for him to discuss his approach for each at-bat with Gaston before stepping into the on-deck circle.

As Gaston recalls, then GM J.P. Ricciardi asked him to keep tabs on both Snider and Adam Lind, to see where their heads were at, and the pre-AB discussions is what he came up with.

"It was never me telling him what he wanted to do," says Gaston. "And if he said I want to hit the fastball, I’d say well hit it, just don’t swing at those breaking balls."

The whole approach was new to Snider, and he hated it.

"It put me in a position to overthink situations. I’d sit down and say this is what I’m looking for, I watched film on this guy for 30 minutes, I watched his last three starts, I have a good feel for his tendencies, and then hear, ‘No, you shouldn’t look for that, you should look for this."


I recommend you read the full story.  I have recently started reading Shawn Green's book and he too starts the book describing his battles with Willie Upshaw and Cito.  His story, and Snider's, appear to have a lot in common.  The next two installments of Davidi's story should be interesting.

We as fans are privy to none of this.  We see a player come up and evaluate him on his performance.  We don't know how his performance is being impacted by the manager, by his teammates or by the coaches.  I always felt you needed a clear head to hit a baseball, most of the best hitters say they see ball, hit ball.  Learning to play major league baseball is a big challenge.  Sometimes a player needs a tough skin and a lot of confidence to stick with what works for him.  Sometimes they get derailed with too much stuff in their heads.


Meanwhile the Jays are not getting much confidence into their team for 2013.  Ricky Romero continues to struggle, despite the win.  Anthony Gose needs more AAA time.  Colby Rasmus is still lost.  Adam Lind keeps hitting with little power.  Brett Lawrie has tailed off (in his case it's not a bad thing, I expect a more motivated Lawrie for 2013).  Henderson Alvarez has looked better despite his taking the loss in yesterday's game one.


What else is going on?