Pirates Notebook: Snyder hunts for slump cure
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NEW YORK -- It is easy to lose track of all the Pirates' individual hitting slumps this season, but one that has begun to stand out is that of catcher Chris Snyder.
Since being acquired from Arizona as part of the five-player trade July 31, he is batting .168 after going 0 for 2 with a groundout, a walk and a popped-up bunt Wednesday night, with 16 hits in 95 at-bats and a .266 on-base percentage. Four of those 16 hits have been home runs, but there has been only one other extra-base hit. He has struck out 32 times, essentially once every three plate appearances.
Snyder's full-season average is .210, his career average .230, but he and the team expressed confidence that he will improve in that regard.
"He's doing better. Donny's been working to get him shorter, get to the ball more," manager John Russell said before the game, referring to hitting coach Don Long's sessions with Snyder. "Chris has had some big hits for us, and he's a threat in that he can hit the ball out if you make mistakes. And you can't take away, too, that he's doing a great job behind the plate."
"I'm getting the feel for it," Snyder said of the work with the swing. "You'll never confuse me with a guy who hits .280, .300. Don't get me wrong: I would love to be that guy."
He did bat as high as .277 in 2006, but never higher than .252 otherwise.
"Yeah, but I was a singles hitter that year, with a hit-to-right approach, and that's not me," Snyder said.
"I'm a bottom-of-the-order guy, and I've learned over time that I'm trying to get on base, take my walks when I can, try to put up productive numbers, including the power."
He expressed satisfaction at his general adjustment to the Pirates, as well as having a completely healthy season after missing extensive time in 2009 because of back trouble.
"It's been unusual, experiencing a trade and everything. I'm not making excuses. I do want to work in these last couple weeks on my approach and give myself a good feeling into the offseason."
As a related aside: Snyder will make $6.25 million next season, $500,000 more than had been previously known and the result of an escalator clause. That currently would make him the Pirates' highest-paid player.
Jeff Clement, the Pirates' opening-day first baseman, is scheduled to have knee surgery Wednesday and will not know until afterward if he will be ready for spring training.
Clement was placed on the disabled list last month because of prolonged discomfort in the left knee, and a recent exam found a microfracture. The procedure will show if there is other damage.
• Russell and general manager Neal Huntington discussed Zach Duke's status in the rotation Wednesday, but no announcement on that front is expected until today. Duke's next turn is Sunday.
• The Pirates released a roster of 95 players participating in the five-team Florida Instructional League, and it included all of the top prospects at lower levels. Recently signed elite pitchers Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia and Stetson Allie will do their first pitching there. Reporting date is Sunday in Bradenton, Fla., and the 12-game schedule spans Sept. 27-Oct. 22.
• Brad Lincoln made an extended side session Wednesday and could be ready to pitch by the weekend in Pittsburgh, Russell said.
• Jason Bay, the New York left fielder formerly of the Pirates, said Wednesday he is "feeling great" after a wicked concussion that has cost him the final two months of the Mets' season. He has yet to face the Pirates since the trade, but he mingled with Russell and the handful of players he would still know.
First Published September 16, 2010 12:00 am