March 21, 2012
Snider, Drabek seem fated for Vegas
By Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency
SARASOTA, FLA. - The theme song for both Travis Snider and Kyle Drabek this spring may well be the old Bob Seger classic Against the Wind.
Both the left fielder and the right-handed starter, respectively, are supposed to be in battles for roster spots but in reality they are little more than phoney wars.
Eric Thames will open the season as the Blue Jays starting left fielder while Drabek will hone his craft and work on both his mechanics and temperament in the minor leagues. Snider and Drabek will be teammates at the start of the season but both are destined for Las Vegas, not the bright lights of Cleveland where the Jays will open up April 5.
Thames will get the nod because he is the incumbent and can only play his way out of the lineup. Drabek, who battled and lost the war last season with his mechanics and emotions, is on the outside of the rotation looking in. He will need to show that he can harness his emotions and repeat his delivery.
Both Snider and Drabek were on display Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles and both know exactly where they stand in the eyes of the organization.
The two players were told at the start of camp that it was going to be an uphill battle all the way and most likely a losing one.
It may not have been the message they wanted to hear but neither player has been hanging his head, throwing a temper tantrum or sulking. Both are working hard to improve themselves as players.
In Wednesday’s game against the Orioles, Snider was 1-for-2 (a double). In 13 games this spring, he is hitting .333 with team highs in home runs (4) and RBIs (15). So, Snider is clearly dealing with the hand that he has been dealt.
“I don’t look at it as an uphill battle. Going back to the interviews I did early in spring training, my attitude’s got to stay the same, of controlling what I can control,” Snider said of his situation. “A couple of weeks they’re going to make a decision and I have to control my daily routine, my attitude, my disposition of being here to get better each day and allowing things to take their course. Eventually what will be will be and that’s going to be out of my hands.”
Snider said he can’t allow himself to get caught up in the negative aspects of his situation and the high degree of probability that he will start the season in Las Vegas.
To some fans that may be added proof that Snider isn’t the real deal, that the Jays first-round pick in 2006 is something of a flop, a player who will never attain the hype that once surrounded his name.
There was a time when Snider would have taken such news the wrong way but with the years have come growth and understanding.
“As a young kid with a lot of opportunities given to me very quickly I don’t think I would ever have drawn it up this way,” he said. “But as you grow older, as you mature and you learn from these experiences, some things happen that are unplanned and you’ve got to do what you can do to control what you can control.”
Looking beyond his numbers this spring, Snider believes he has improved from the player he was last year.
“I feel very comfortable with where I’m at from a swing standpoint,” he said. “I’ve been able to hit more often than not a lot of fastballs in spring training but what continues to be something to work on is the approach, day in and day out, at-bat after at-bat and I feel like I’ve had some really quality at-bats this spring.”
Looking back now and the quality spring he has posted, Snider can still accept the reality of his situation.
“I don’t know if it makes it any easier when decision day comes,” he said of his pre-camp chat with manager John Farrell and GM Alex Anthopoulos. “You always appreciate the honesty and that’s what they pride themselves with, being up-front and honest with things. If somebody treats you straight and that’s the decision that’s made, you’ve got to deal with it.”
Even if at the end of camp he’s told it’s ‘Vegas baby.’