Pirates notebook: Snider gets 1st start, hopes for more

Pirates outfielder Travis Snider strikes out against the Cubs on Monday, April 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates outfielder Travis Snider strikes out against the Cubs on Monday, April 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Photo by Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, April 5, 2013, 11:09 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — Coming out of spring training, Travis Snider wasn't quite where he needed to be at the plate.

“I don't want to say I was still searching; I'll say I was progressing,” Snider said Friday. “Power-wise, there are some things I'm tweaking. I had some games where I showed some power. But I needed to make some adjustments as far as where I was hitting the ball and what kind of pitches I was looking to hit.”

At the start of camp, manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington repeatedly said the right field job was Snider's to lose. But when the season began, Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones were in the lineup and Snider was benched.

“Travis made very good strides throughout spring training,” Hurdle said. “(But) I wanted to break out with the guys who were swinging the bat the best.”

A left-handed batter, Snider made his first start of the season Friday against Dodgers righty Zack Greinke. Jones, who also bats left-handed, started at first base.

“We want to get Travis in play and heat him up,” Hurdle said.

The Dodgers will start left-handers Saturday and Sunday, so Sanchez will be back at first base. Hurdle didn't indicate who'll start in right field.

“When you get two pinch-hits in three games, you look forward to when you can get in there and get multiple at-bats,” Snider said. “My mind set is just to go compete, whenever I'm in the lineup, whether it's as a pinch-hitter or a starter.”

Russell returns

Friday was the first time catcher Russell Martin played at Dodger Stadium since Aug. 3, 2010, his final game with the Dodgers. He spent the past two seasons with the Yankees.

“I went out for early BP and saw how beautiful the field was,” Martin said. “It brought back some pretty good memories. But taking a right turn instead of a left to the clubhouse when I walked in here, that definitely was weird.”

Martin was drafted by the Dodgers in 2002 and made his big league debut four years later. He said the franchise's mystique didn't really hit him until after he left.

“I took it for granted before because they were the only organization I knew,” Martin said. “I didn't know how special it was until I got out. I've been fortunate, playing for the Dodgers and the Yankees. But I'm wearing the Pirates' colors now, and I'm proud of that, too.”

Jack's back

Speaking of reunions, Jack Wilson and his son, Jake, visited with the Pirates during batting practice. The former Pirates shortstop left the game after the 2012 season and said retirement is treating him well.

“I'm loving it,” Wilson said. “I'm playing softball every Tuesday night and coaching Little League.”

Whole lotta nothing

The Pirates and Chicago Cubs combined for only 24 hits in their season-opening series this week. According to Elias, it's the lowest total in a three-game set between those teams since 1915, when they combined for 22 hits at Forbes Field.

How hard was it to get a hit in that '15 series? Honus Wagner, who had a .328 career batting average, went1 for 9.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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