Not too long ago, Travis Snider was a starter in the Pirates’ outfield, making outstanding catches and a name for himself as one of the hot young players in the game.
But baseball can be cruel. It is, at best, a great way to make a living and, at worst, nothing but a tease.
Unable to find a job last offseason, Snider went to spring training at the MLB Players Association free-agent camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. When that didn’t bear fruit, Snider joined the Ducks — and the frustration continued.
The 30-year-old struggled in his opening month in Central Islip, hitting .205 in the first three weeks and bumping that up only to .231 on May 31.
“I don’t think anybody is happy when they’re hitting [.205], especially with the amount of opportunities I had to drive in runs with two great hitters in front of me,” Snider said, referring primarily to Jordany Valdespin and Emilio Bonifacio. “But it’s the ebbs and flows of baseball. It’s something that I’ve gone through before in my career. You just try to take it in stride, make those adjustments on pitch selection and try to put a good swing on a good pitch.”
But Snider, who hit a ninth-inning homer Saturday in the Ducks’ 5-2 loss to the Road Warriors, seems to have turned it around. Entering the weekend series, he was hitting .340 in June, raising his season average to a much more respectable .280. He had eight home runs and 41 RBIs entering Friday.
“He’s a professional hitter,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. “It was just a matter of time before he was going to come out of it. He works hard, is a smart hitter and a great teammate. He’s always looking to try and get better and help the offense.”
Baez agreed with Snider’s assessment that pitch selection has been the key to the breakout.
“That’s very important,” Baez said. “We’ve been talking about that since day one: ‘Let’s get a good pitch to hit early in the count and let’s put a good swing on it.’ Right now, he’s doing it. He’s getting good pitches to hit, but he’s also laying off tough pitches, and that’s allowing him to get good pitches.’ ”
Ducks add arms
The Ducks, always looking to bolster their pitching staff, added two former big-league pitchers and a Long Island native, all righties, this past week. The Ducks signed former Met Gonzalez Germen and former Yankee Branden Pinder and acquired Miller Place native Tyler Badamo.
Germen, 30, made 54 appearances with the Mets in 2013-14, pitching to a 4.31 ERA. He also played for the Rockies and Cubs. He was 3-3 with a 4.63 ERA in 129 appearances (one start) in parts of four seasons in the majors.
Pinder, 29, made 26 appearances for the Yankees in 2015-16, including 25 in 2015. During that season, he was 0-2 with a 2.93 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 27 2⁄3 innings.
“I’m just looking to go out there and pitch, stay healthy, prove to myself that I’m healthy, and go after hitters like I normally do,” said Pinder, who pitched twice for the Ducks in last week’s series against York.
Badamo, 25, who came from the New Britain Bees on Friday, completed an April trade that sent pitcher Elvin Ramirez to New Britain.
Francisco Rodriguez’s 12 saves ranked third in the Atlantic League entering the weekend, four behind Sugar Land’s Felipe Paulino. Rod riguez earned saves in both Ducks victories over York last week. Entering Saturday, he was 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in 18 appearances. He struck out 18 and walked nine in 18 innings.