Snyder pleasantly surprised to get second straight start

Rookie plays first base again, gets first major league hit and RBI

  • Orioles rookie Brandon Snyder gets the first hit and RBI of his major league career with a single off Blue Jays starter Marc Rzepczynski in the second inning. The Orioles won, 4-3, in 11 innings at Camden Yards.
Orioles rookie Brandon Snyder gets the first hit and RBI of his… (Reuters photo )
September 13, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

After starting his first major league game Sunday and going hitless in three at-bats against Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander, Orioles rookie Brandon Snyder expected to have a relatively easy day at the office Monday night.

But when he walked into Camden Yards on Monday afternoon, he noticed he was in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, again batting ninth and playing first base, this time against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I was almost expecting to come in and kind of be sitting today, but I am extremely excited," said Snyder, the Orioles' first-round pick (13th overall) in 2005. "I felt like after the third or fourth inning [Sunday], I started to really fit in there and I felt really good at the plate and everything. And I'm just trying to carry that into today."

When Snyder learned he was starting, he immediately called his family in Centreville, Va., just south of Fairfax. His mother and sister said they would come up on short notice, but their one-hour drive might turn into three hours of after-work, beltway traffic.

Snyder's journey to his first big league game has taken five years, and his first 11 days in the majors were spent watching. He logged one inning as a defensive replacement Friday before his start Sunday. But that was OK with Snyder, who went 1-for-3 on Monday and got his first major league hit and RBI with a second-inning single.

"I am a competitive person, so obviously I want to get in there and help the team win. But then again, I understand my position here," Snyder, 23, said. "I look at it as a time to really focus in on my craft and get better."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he decided to start Snyder and shortstop Robert Andino in consecutive games because the Orioles are again playing a team that is out of the postseason race and opportunities to evaluate younger players are becoming scarce.

"I think it is important for him and Robert at shortstop getting two days in a row, to kind of get the adrenaline down to a manageable level a little bit," Showalter said. "I said earlier, when we were playing Tampa and New York and Boston, with competitive integrity, that when we got into some of these games, we'd try to get more looks at guys because those are dwindling — the innings played, the innings pitched, those opportunities to help us make those decisions."

Snyder, who won't play winter ball this offseason in order to be 100 percent healthy for next spring, said he views the consecutive starts as a way to show his new manager what he can do. And that's the exact attitude Showalter is looking for.

"I hope they're pressing. I hope it is important to them. I hope they do have a grip on reality of the opportunities you get, you better take advantage of them," Showalter said. "That goes for not just Brandon, but for all of us, including me. You should have a sense of urgency every time you go out there. Last time I looked, that was part of the job description."

Hernandez says arm is fine

Reliever David Hernandez accidentally caused a mini controversy when TV cameras caught him touching his right elbow after he came off the mound Sunday. Hernandez had just allowed two of the four batters he faced to reach base, and both scored in the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Tigers.

Hernandez said he had no pain in his elbow and didn't know he had grabbed it until he talked to his wife after the game.

"I feel fine. I didn't really even think of it until I got home and my wife said I was grabbing my elbow," Hernandez said. "But no, I was just more frustrated with how the outing went."

Hernandez, who hadn't pitched for more than a month because of a sprained left ankle, threw a scoreless inning Sept. 10 after two strong outings at Double-A Bowie. The two runs he allowed Sunday were his first since Aug. 4.

"I just feel like being off so long, I kind of lost the command of my pitches. Yeah, I did have those outings in Bowie, but it's not the same when you come back up here," said Hernandez, who said his ankle is fine, though it occasionally stiffens overnight. "I'm just hoping I have a couple [more] outings under my belt and get the rust off, and hopefully I'll command my pitches better than I have."

Avoiding 100 losses?

Heading into Monday night, the Orioles needed to win eight of their final 19 games to guarantee they wouldn't lose 100 in a season for just the third time in club history. Showalter said he hasn't focused on that or whether avoiding 100 losses would be good for his players' collective psyche.

"I think their psyche might be [more about] our fans. I do concern myself with that," Showalter said. "But how much of a subject matter will be it be next year at spring training? There's a lot of ways to look at it. I haven't gotten that deep into it, about what's gone on in the past. I told you all it's about moving forward."

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