|Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider talks to a coach during practice at the team's spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida on Feb. 14, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
DUNEDIN, Fla. — There is little ‘me’ in the Travis Snider of 2011.
Ask him pretty well anything about himself and the Jays 23-year-old left fielder will invariably reply with a ‘we’ as he stresses his team, the Blue Jays, over and over, talking up the positives, amplifying the camaraderie and togetherness.
It’s a team and a group of guys that Snider feels extremely proud and fortunate to be around. If an off-shoot is a breakthrough season for himself — and many around the Jays are predicting such a happening — Snider will gladly accept it as anything that he does positively on the field will in some way enhance the team.
It’s a socialistic, almost Pollyanna view of the game and what general manager Alex Anthopoulos is attempting to establish in his second full season as the Blue Jays boss.
But it’s a message that clearly resonates with Snider, the Jays first-round pick in June of 2006, a player who all believed that greatness would one day embrace.
In Toronto the fans still are waiting for that day and the hope is that the niggling injuries that have hampered his development are a thing of the past.
Along the way he has also gained maturity and inner growth and realizes that the stubbornness that he showed in the past only worked to his detriment.
Given all that has gone on in his career in the past, is 2011 going to be his year?
“I think more importantly, it’s going to be our year,” Snider replied. “As a team we’ve all worked hard to get to this point and personally I’ve had some struggles, whether it be performance or injury the last few years, which has taught me a lot about myself as a player and a person.
“Looking forward, we’re excited for the opportunity that we have. We have a good young group of guys, a good mix of veteran guys and a good excitement throughout the organization. We’re really fortunate to be in this position and I wake up every morning with that on my mind, that I’m blessed to be here and to have this opportunity and I really want to take advantage of it in all the right ways.”
The Jays are basically a team filled with youthful players, one that is only going to get younger over the next few seasons. It’s a team that clearly excites Snider, which to him is akin to a band of brothers.
“I think the way that we pull for each other (is exciting),” he said. “A lot of us have come up through the minor leagues together. We’ve all struggled together at some point in our careers. We’ve all rallied around (each other) and still have the utmost confidence in every guy that puts on that uniform. We go to war every day with the mindset of knowing that we have each others’ backs. We’re just excited as a group to go out there every day, together and give the fans something to get excited about.”
Snider always has been tabbed as a franchise type player, a kid with a ton of raw power. When he learns how to put it all together, look out.
Along the way, since his first season in pro ball in 2006, he has learned how to manage, temper those expectations.
“I think through the support I’ve received, from the fans, the players, guys on this team and others who have moved on to other organizations, the support from the organization, Alex and the faith that he has shown in me,” he said. “And there’s my family and friends back home who are the most important people to me in my life and a big reason why I’m standing here today. I try to keep all that in perspective and understand that no matter how long the road seems, I’m still 23 years old and I still have time on my side and have a great group of guys beside me.”
It’s a simplistic, one for all, all for one philosophy.
It’s one that Snider will carry proudly throughout the 2011 season.