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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010

Catcher Chris Snyder has been in the majors for six years but Monday night felt like his big-league debut.

No wonder.

Forty-eight hours after being traded for the first time in his career, Snyder made his debut in a Pirates uniform, playing alongside guys he'd met just two-and-a-half hours earlier.

"I've never been traded; I've never gone through stuff like this," Snyder said. "I've seen the Reds, not a lot, but being in the National League I'd see them two to three times a year. But still, it felt like I'd never seen those guys play before and I had no idea about them. It was definitely different.

"Things were racing pretty quick that day."

Welcome to a mid-season trade. From learning names to finding a place to live and the nearest grocery store and gas station to, in some cases, missing the family left behind, the first week is a whirlwind for players who suddenly find themselves playing for a new team.

New Pirates pitcher James McDonald and former closer Octavio Dotel both learned they were traded when they saw their names scrolling across the bottom of the television screen.

Snyder and then-teammate Chad Qualls were hanging out in the Arizona Diamondbacks' hotel in New York the night before the trade deadline when interim general manager Jerry Dipoto came to tell Qualls he was headed to Tampa Bay. He told Snyder they'd probably be talking in the morning.

Snyder flew back to Phoenix after he learned he'd be joining the Pirates. He spent the day with this wife and three children, ages 5, 3 and 2 12 months, threw two months' worth of clothes in a couple of suitcase and was on a plane early Monday morning.

"I think my wife might be better to talk to because she's kind of going crazy right now," he said.

Snyder's family will join him in San Diego, then go on to Houston, where both Snyder and his wife are originally from. His wife will then travel with the baby to spend a few days in Pittsburgh before returning home.

Pitcher Chris Resop got the call at 4 p.m. Wednesday that the Pirates had picked him up, had an 11 a.m. flight Thursday and pitched later that night.

"I had about half a day — 18 hours or so — to get ready. It was tough," said Resop, whose wife and son came to Pittsburgh with him. "We have a little baby who's 11 months old. I was trying to pack and he was crawling around all over the place, getting into everything. It was a lot of work. My wife and I are still like zombies right now. It was crazy. We're both taking it all in and trying to slow this thing down as best we can."

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