Snider on his past failings and new opportunity with the Orioles

The Orioles made newly acquired outfielder Travis Snider available to the media this morning on a conference call that lasted about 15 minutes and also included executive vice president Dan Duquette.

Here’s a sampling of quotes from Snider:

On his reaction to the trade:
“It’s always a little bit of a surprise just the way things transpired. Going into the offseason, my wife and I had conversations, and family members, about the possibility of finding a different organization, and at that point we leave it at that until you get the phone call and then you deal with those types of things. I’m very happy and very excited to be part of a winning organization and joining a great group of guys.”

Travis Snider Batting Pirates.jpgOn his minor league success not translating to the majors:
“I think it’s been a tremendous learning experience for me over the course of the last seven seasons. Early on in my career, I was young and immature, to be honest. There were a lot of things that were happening in baseball that I was not able to process. The business side of things was a little bit over my head. As a young player in a tough division, I allowed the distractions to take away from the focus of just getting better every single day. And going over to Pittsburgh, the change of scenery was great for me to get a fresh start somewhere and work with a great staff there for 2 1/2 years and really develop not only the baseball side of things, but the mindset. At the major league level, so much more goes into it than just showing up and playing. The way you prepare and the way you go about your business. I’ve been fortunate enough to have developed that part of my game over the last couple of years, and hopefully that will carry me through the remainder of my career.”

On whether his goal this spring is to show the Orioles he can play every day:
“For me going into spring training with a new team, it’s a matter of getting to know my teammates and my coaching staff and having that open line of communication. There are going to be times during the season when I’m asked to fill different roles. I’ve experienced that now in seven seasons of being an everyday player for short stints, being a part-time platoon and being a bench player in the National League, so I feel like I’ve been able to sharpen all the tools in the tool box and prepare myself for this next opportunity and not be concerned with what’s going to happen four months from now. I’m focused on today, preparing myself to be ready to go and compete down there in Sarasota and earn what is given to me.”

On being familiar with the Orioles from his days in Toronto and facing them in spring training with the Pirates:
“Having played against Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, a number of guys on that roster I’ve either played against on the minor league or major league level, I’ve 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’m very confident and very excited to be part of a winning group of guys in a league that I’m familiar with. Playing in American League East for a handful of years, I know the cities and I know the ballparks. I’m familiar with what goes into the competition in the American League East and I’m excited just to be back in it.”

On hitting at Camden Yards, where his career numbers are poor:
“I don’t look at a small sample size of playing there as a projection of how I’m going to do. There were some things I was able to do offensively that I had been working toward for quite some time and for me to build off of the way I finished at the end of last season (comes from) having a refined approach at the plate and taking a nice easy swing. When you play at Camden Yards and stadiums such as Camden Yards, there’s a lot of room for error. And when I say error, we as power hitters when we stay within ourselves and take a nice easy swing, good things can happen. And knowing left-center field isn’t 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.”

On playing right field in Baltimore:
“I’ve played there, so I am familiar with the dimensions, the wall. Having played in PNC Park, they have a pretty big wall in right field there, too. I’ve played in Fenway with a big wall in left. Knowing I’ll be playing there maybe 81 times a year, there’s more motivation to get out there with the coaching staff early on in the season and 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’s 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 allow them to get doubles.”

On whether he has a preference:
“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’re able to adjust defensively based on what the coaching staff and what you read as a defender, it allows you to cut down on extra bases. Playing right field primarily for the last two, 2 1/2 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 them while I was there. And having great coaches along the way has taught me how hard I have to work to be successful at this level.”

On whether he’s comfortable being the designated hitter if asked to fill that role:
“Absolutely. Any way that I can get in the order and get at-bats and any way I can help the team is really what I’m focused on. And playing in the American League and 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 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. Having played in the National League now for 2 1/2 years and being a pinch-hitter for about half of my career there, it’s really taught me how to prepare myself during the game when I’m not playing defense.”

On the origin of his Twitter handle ,@lunchboxhero45:
“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. For me, having played in a city like Pittsburgh, that was something that in the media was magnified. Having filled different roles in my career and having matured in the game of baseball, I understand throughout six months a lot of things change, and getting caught up in what’s happening the first two weeks of the season, the first two months of the season, I’ve 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 that and the mentality that comes with the bring your lunch pail to work and just come ready to get after it and compete.

“The nickname ‘lunchbox’ actually comes more from my ability to eat than really my ‘bring your lunch pail to work’ attitude. That was something in my younger years as a freshman, a young guy playing varsity football, the seniors decided to give me that nickname because I liked to eat and I could fill the middle. So they threw the lunchbox out there and I rolled with it.”

Duquette repeated that the Orioles and Pirates talked about Snider at the Winter Meetings and almost struck a deal. He also confirmed that the player to be named later from the Pirates won’t be announced until spring training.

“I’ve always liked Travis for our ballclub and our ballpark,” Duquette added. “His work ethic is very good and he fits right in to the lunch pail, next man up mentality that the Orioles have.”

Duquette reminded reporters that Snider has pitched in the majors. He worked one inning with the Pirates and allowed two runs.

“Travis also pitched in the big leagues, so if Buck (Showalter) wants to go with a left-hander when we get into one of those extra-inning games, he’s already got one there to go with Chris Davis from the right side,” Duquette quipped.

“Yeah,” Snider said, “I’ve been throwing bullpens all winter just getting ready for that one inning, so you can add that to the column.”

Note: The Orioles signed right fielder Anthony Hewitt, the Phillies’ 2008 first-round pick who was released in June, and right-hander Brad Duffy to minor league deals, according to Baseball America.

Hewitt, 25, is a career .223/.264/.370 hitter in seven minor league seasons and has never played above Double-A. Duffy, 25, averaged 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings last season with Lake Erie in the independent Frontier League. He’s 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 86 games (two starts) over three seasons with Lake Erie.

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