The Orioles held a teleconference Friday with executive vice president Dan Duquette and new outfielder Travis Snider, whom the Orioles acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. Snider will not be at FanFest; a huge Seattle Seahawks fan who grew up in Washington state, he will be at the Super Bowl this weekend.
Here are some of the questions asked Friday of Snider and Duquette and the answers given:
Were you surprised by the trade?
Snider: "I think it's always a surprise, just the day of and the way things transpire. Going into the offseason my wife and I, we had conversations … about the possibility of finding a different organization. At that point, we leave it at that until you get the phone call. Then you deal with those types of things. I'm very excited to be a part of a winning organization and be with a great group of guys."
You were a first-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006 draft who debuted in the majors at age 20. How did those experiences shape you and your baseball career?
Snider: "I think it's been a tremendous learning experience for me over the course of the last six or seven seasons. Early on in my career, I was young and immature, to be honest. There was a lot of things happening in baseball that I was not able to process … Some things were a little over my head. As a young player in a tough division, I allowed the distractions to take away from the focus of getting better every day. When I went over to Pittsburgh, the change of scenery was great for me to get a fresh start somewhere else and work with a great staff there for 2 ½ years and really develop not only the baseball side of things but the mindset, because at the major league level so much more goes into it than just showing up and playing. There's the way you prepare and go about your business. I've been fortunate enough to develop that part of my game over the last several years and hopefully that will carry me through the remainder of my career."
What are your thoughts on possibly facing more left-handed pitchers?
Snider: "For me, going into spring training with a new team, it's a matter of getting to know my teammates, getting to know my coaching staff and having that open line of communication. There are going to be times when I'm asked to fill different roles. I've experienced that now over seven seasons, from being an everyday player for short stints, being a part-time platoon guy, being a bench player in the National League. So I feel like I've been able to sharpen all the tools in my toolbox to prepare myself for that next opportunity and not being concerned with what's going to happen four months from now. I'm focused on today and preparing myself to get ready to compete down there in Sarasota and earn what is given to me."
How did this trade come about?
Duquette: "We liked Travis going back to the end of the season and we had some discussions with Pittsburgh at the winter meetings and almost consummated a trade at that point. We continued our dialogue with Pittsburgh. I have always liked Travis for our ballclub and our ballpark. I think his work ethic is very good and he fits right in to the lunch-pail, next-man-up mentality that the Orioles have. And I also like his skill set for our ballpark. He's got left-handed pull power and he has the kind of power to hit the ball out of left-center field in our ballpark. So I think that's a good fit. And taking into account that he is 26-years-old (he turns 27 Monday), this is the right time in his career to really have a good season. And based on what he did in terms of player development and the habits that he developed in the second half of last season, becoming more selective at the plate, increasing his average, his on-base percentage, his slugging to career-high levels. I think those habits that he has created and established for himself are going to serve him well here with the Orioles and in the American League."
How does your familiarity with the Orioles and the AL East help your transition?
Snider: "Having played against Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz -- a number of guys on that roster I've either played against in the minors or at the major league level. I have always had a lot of respect for the young core that they've been building here in Baltimore. And to be a part of that now is exciting. It's always a change when you leave something behind and move on to the next step of your life. But I am very confident and very excited to be a part of a winning group of guys in a league that I am familiar with. I mean, playing in the American league East for a handful of years I know the cities, I know the ballparks. I'm familiar with what goes into the competition in the AL East and I'm excited to just be back in it."
You've hit just .146 with a .204 on-base percentage (in 54 plate appearances at Camden Yards), but there's talk about how your swing is perfect for the park. What's your take?
Snider: "I don't look at a small sample size of playing there as a projection of how I'm going to do. For me, as Dan alluded to, at the end of the season, there were some things that I was able to do offensively that I have been working toward for quite some time. And for me to build off the way I finished at the end of last season goes into exactly what he said. Having a refined approach at the plate and taking a nice easy swing. When you play in Camden Yards and stadiums such as Camden Yards, there's a lot of room for error. And when I say error, I mean, as power hitters, when we stay within ourselves and take a nice easy swing, good things can happen. And knowing that left-center is not going to be 420 feet away for me as a left-handed hitter it's nice to be able to stay within that approach of being hard through the middle of the field and allowing the rest of it to come."
Wil playing the right-field wall at Camden Yards be a challenge?
Snider: "I've played there, again, on defense, so I am familiar with the dimensions, the wall. Having played in PNC, they have a pretty good wall there in right field, too. I have played in Fenway, there's the big wall in left, so it's one of those things where … I'll be playing there 81 times a year, there's more motivation to get out with your coaching staff early on in the season and just try to learn as much as you can about the little nooks and crannies. Every ballpark has certain areas where the ball jumps, where the ball dives and how it is going to carom down that line. If right field is where I'm going to be at, or left field, there's always something you can learn from each ballpark to kind of shorten the angles and keep guys at first base and not allowing them to get doubles."
Do you have a defensive preference, left or right?
Snider: "Either or. Left field for me, as a left-hander, I always enjoyed going to the line and spinning and throwing guys out. And when you are able to adjust defensively based on what the coaching staff (sees) and what you read as a defender, it allows you to cut down on extra bases. Playing right field primarily for the last two, 2½ years in Pittsburgh was tremendous. I had a lot of fun out there playing next to some pretty good players. And learning as much as I could from those guys while I was there and having good coaches along the way has taught me how hard I have to work to be successful at this level defensively."
Would you be comfortable in taking on some designated hitting responsibilities?
Snider: "Absolutely. Any way I can get in the order get at-bats, any way I can help the team is really what I am focused on. And having played in the American League, understanding the grind of a 162-game season, I'm not going to be lobbying very often to be in that DH spot. You want to be out there helping your team on both sides of the ball. But, at the same time, if that's the role that I fall into throughout the season at certain points, I'm OK with it. I've done it, I've experienced it. It's not something that I'm afraid to do. Some guys don't enjoy the DH spot because there's a lot of time to think. But having played in the National League now for 2 ½ years and being a pinch-hitter for about half of my career there, it really taught me how to prepare myself during the game when I am not playing defense."
You have been labeled you as a 'lunch-pail' player. Where does that come from?
Snider: "The lunch-pail attitude is something that goes back to my father and my family. I come from a blue-collar, working class family. My father worked two jobs all the way through high school to provide me with the opportunity to make it where I am now. … Having filled different roles in my career and having matured in the game of baseball, I understand throughout six months a lot of things can change. And to get caught up in what is happening in the first two weeks of the season, the first two months of the season, I have learned to keep that 'head-down, hard-work' approach and look up at the end and see where we're at. And I understand having played in a couple playoff races now, what goes into all of that and the mentality that comes with, 'Bring your lunch pail to work.' And just come ready to get after it and compete."
How much did Snider's contract situation (he's under team control through 2016) go into the trade? And when will you announce the player to be named later in the deal?
Duquette: "Obviously it was attractive that we could have Travis for a couple of years and I think that was important in our consideration. And as far as the player to be named, we'll probably do that at some point in spring training, when we get to spring training."
Duquette and Snider ended the conference on a light note, with Duquette making reference to the one inning that Snider pitched in June (he allowed one hit, two walks and two runs in a blowout loss to the Cincinnati Reds).
Duquette: "One other point I wanted to make: Travis also pitched in the big leagues, so if Buck (Showalter) wants to go with a left-hander if we get into one of those extra-inning games he's already got one there to go with Chris Davis from the right side."
Snider: "Yeah, I've been throwing bullpens all winter just getting ready for that one inning, guys. You can add that to the column."