Snider's 'tweak' par for the course

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

DUNEDIN — It’s just a bit of “irritation,” but when Travis Snider says he “tweaked” something, it’s difficult not to sound the alarm.

Snider’s career has been a succession of tweaks and pulls and aches and sprains, injuries that have interrupted his path to what many baseball people have believed would be a stellar major-league career.

At the still-tender age of 22, that’s still very much possible, as long as he can stay healthy.

This latest setback, by all accounts minor in nature, involves irritation of an intercostal muscle on the left side of his rib cage.

“I tweaked something,” he said. “We’ve just been taking a very cautious approach with the idea in mind of being ready for opening day.

“Hopefully, this thing is short-term. It happened about a week ago while playing golf before we even reported. It was a freak thing. It wasn’t something that exploded on me but just progressively got worse.

“It was a par-three. I hit it in the water.”

Given that Snider’s golf score was in triple figures, you might be able to term it a repetitive-use injury.

“I almost broke 100,” Snider said. “That’s not good, but it’s good for me.”

The timing of the injury, coming five weeks in advance of opening day, is unlikely to put a serious dent in Snider’s preparation.

“One of the rib-cage muscles is irritated,” he said. “The best way to treat it is with rest and ice and not push it. I’ll start playing as soon as possible. There’s no time frame at this point. It’s already gotten a bit better.

“I’m glad it happened in February so that I don’t have to be away from the team and trying to rush things back. The timing is unfortunate for spring training. There’s a lot of work I wish I was able to be out there doing, but the most important thing is to get healthy.

Snider’s admission followed a few minutes after an awkward exchange between John Farrell and reporters in which the manager referred to Snider and “tightness in his core,” which had not been revealed before.

“Snider’s shown steady improvement,” Farrell said. “There’s some resistance testing that he’s going through and he’s responding well to that. We haven’t turned him loose yet as far as beginning a hitting progression, but the fact that he’s making progress is certainly encouraging.”

When asked if this was as a result of an injury, Farrell said: “No, no no, just bringing him along a little bit slower.”

Snider’s injury went unnoticed because he had been taking his place among his regular grouping during workouts as they rotated to various stations around the Bobby Mattick complex these past few days.

He has been in uniform, taking part but only to the extent of involving himself in coaching discussions, not baseball activity.

Sunday, he was one of the hitters who stood in the batter’s box, but didn’t swing, against live pitching just to get the pitchers accustomed again to facing a batsman.

One of Farrell’s consistent themes this spring has been his insistence that Snider is going to be given his chance to be a regular without fear of banishment to the bench or to the minors for every mistake he makes.

One theory as to Snider’s inability to get his career over the hump is that he has been constantly looking over his shoulder.

Perhaps, in that vein, Farrell was simply trying to protect Snider from having to answer questions about an injury incurred on the golf course rather than the ball diamond.

But the truth is, Snider doesn’t need any protection, not in this case anyway. He was enjoying a round of golf with his teammates at a time of the year when he wasn’t yet on the Blue Jay clock. He didn’t try to hide it and, by all accounts, it’ll be healed and forgotten quickly enough that little preparation time will be lost.

“I’m trying to be as involved as I can right now, without being physically involved,” Snider said. “I do think time is on my side and we can get it comfortable and under control so I can get back out there doing what I need to do to prepare for the season.”

ken.fidlin@sunmedia.ca


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