ShareThis Page

Bucs' Snell settles into regular routine

| Monday, March 23, 2009

BRADENTON, Fla. — To Ian Snell's disappointment, there was no dancing in the aisles Sunday at McKechnie Field when the Pirates played the Reds.

This is, after all, spring training and not the World Baseball Classic, in which Snell spent the past three weeks playing for Puerto Rico.

"Over there, you got people dancing in the aisles, playing drums, whistles are going off," he said. "It was fun over there while it lasted. Now I have to get my mind set to pitch and help this team win."

Snell got off to a rough start in his first game back with the Pirates. He gave up six runs and nine hits in 4.1 innings in a 6-0 loss. A blister on the side of his big toe on his right foot forced Snell to make an early exit.

Snell said the sore is no cause for concern, and neither is the subpar outing in just his second start with the Pirates this spring. Snell said he "couldn't get loose" and he "felt kind of awkward" when he took the mound for the first time since his last spring training appearance Feb. 26.

"It's spring training," Snell said. "It's not the season. I'm not worried, and neither should anyone else. I haven't thrown in five days. It's hard to come out when you're not in a normal routine to go and throw."

Snell went 0-1 with 2.25 ERA in two starts — his most recent being March 16 — in the WBC.

Pirates manager John Russell said he wasn't concerned with Snell's performance yesterday because of the transition Snell made from pitching in the World Baseball Classic to a spring training game. Russell was particularly pleased with Snell's changeup and his inside pitches.

"I knew it was going to be an outing coming away from the WBC," Russell said. "I wouldn't say it's a letdown, but he had a pretty emotional ride there. I was happy he got his work in. I think he's gonna be fine. I saw some good things out of him even though he gave up six runs."

Despite pitching just 6.1 innings with the Pirates this spring, Snell — who was 7-12 with a 5.42 ERA last season — likely will be the No. 2 or No. 3 starter. General manager Neal Huntington last week said of Snell and Zach Duke that "they're not locks, but they certainly have cemented inside tracks."

Snell is right on track considering he put in the same work with Team Puerto Rico that he would have done at spring training. In the meantime, though, he faced tougher competition and had a rewarding experience.

"The fans and that atmosphere was much different than what it is here in the United States," Snell said. "It's like they're really, really passionate about the game and it makes you want to go out and perform for them. I had a great time."

Puerto Rico was eliminated in the second round of pool play after Team USA pulled out a 6-5 victory, but not before Snell was able to appreciate the culture and represent someone very special to him.

"It meant a lot because it was for my dad," Snell said. "It wasn't that I was trying to fake and be something that I'm not. That's the way I grew up. Nobody really knows because that's the way I grew up. I don't talk about it and I don't care to talk about it with other people. My dad is Puerto Rican, and I just wanted to honor him and represent him on the team and that's what I did."

Additional Information:

Today's game

Pirates vs. Rays

1:05 p.m. · McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Fla.

Radio/TV: None. (The game is available at .)

Pirates probable starter : RHP Zach Duke

Rays probable starter : RHP Jason Hammel

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.