MILWAUKEE -- Tuesday night, Travis Snider took his first at-bat with the Pirates since 2014, the most recent time he was on their roster. He joined the active roster as soon as it expanded from 25 to 40 players as a left-handed bat off the bench.
“Familiarity, comfort level, coaching staff,” Snider said before Tuesday’s game regarding why he chose to sign a minor league deal with the Pirates after the Orioles released him. “These guys have seen me probably at the best in my career. Getting a chance to work with Jeff Branson, Clint [Hurdle], being around this clubhouse. The friends, I consider my baseball family. It was an easy decision when it came down to making that final choice, for me and my wife. We were pretty sold on coming back here.”
Snider found playing time hard to come by with the Orioles.
“All excuses aside, the American League bench role-play situation is different than the National League,” he said. “That's one thing that helped me out a lot here was getting those pinch-hits, being able to take what you're working on in practice and translate it into 90, 95 miles an hour, which was great, but the adjustment, like I said, in the American League that I didn't make.”
Getting consistent at-bats in a 10-game span with Indianapolis helped Snider regain his timing. Now he is working on returning to the approach that helped him put together such a strong second half in 2014.
“That was a big thing for me the last couple of years, is trusting my ability to hit the fastball to left-center and when the guys hang breaking stuff, you make them pay,” Snider said. “I think I got into a mode where it was swing-swing or take-take instead of, ’OK, I'm looking for one pitch in one spot and if I don't get it until two strikes, I'm going to battle.’ I think that's where, more than anything, being ready to hit when you get your pitch instead of trying to do too much when you're in the box.”
Pirates notebook: Six players added to roster on expansion day.
INDIANAPOLIS (80-58) lost to Columbus, 10-6 after starter, RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-1, 2.41) gave up 6 earned runs on 1 hit and 5 walks in one-third of an inning. LF Keon Broxton (.262) was 3 for 5 with a 2-run homer, a double and 3 RBIs, while DH John Bowker (.204) hit his fifth homer of the season. 3B Alen Hanson (.269), 1B Josh Bell (.346) and CF Gorkys Hernandez (.278) each had 2 hits.
ALTOONA (72-64) defeated Bowie, 5-2. RHP Jason Creasy (11-8, 4.53) gave up 8 hits in 6 innings, but only allowed 2 runs, walked 1 and fanned 6 for the win. DH Erich Weiss (.290) was 2 for 3 with a double, 2 RBIs and a run scored, while RF Stetson Allie (.207) and CF Andy Vasquez (.241) each posted 2 hits.
BRADENTON (71-63) defeated Palm Beach, 4-3, in 10 innings as C Jin-De Jhang (.298) hit a walk-off solo homer to win it. RHP Junior Lopez (5-0, 2.88) pitched 3 innings of scoreless relief and struck out 3 for the win. 1B Edwin Espinal (.261) was 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs.
WEST VIRGINIA POWER (82-51) defeated Lexington, 3-2, in 10 innings as 1B Connor Joe (.241) drove in Kevin Newman (.296) with the winning run on a walk-off single. DH Jerrick Suiter (.290) was 2 for 4 and scored a run, while LF Elvis Escobar (.294) hit a 2-run homer.
WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (37-33) defeated Batavia, 9-0 as RHP Tanner Anderson (1-0, 4.50) gave up 1 hit and struck out 1 in 2 innings of relief for the win. The Black Bears used 5 pitchers, who combined to allow 4 hits in the shutout. 2B Mitchell Tolman (.296) finished 3 for 4 with a double and 2 RBIs. CF Casey Hughston (.218) and SS Erik Forgione (.260) each went 3 for 5 with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored.
BRISTOL (29-36) ended its season with a 6-1 loss to Elizabethton. RHP Gage Hinsz (3-4, 3.79) gave up 2 runs – 1 earned – on 7 hits, while walking 2 and striking out 6 in 6 innings of work to take the loss. RF Nick Buckner (.275) and 1B John Bormann (.235) each went 3 for 5 with a double. CF Enyel Vallejo (.231) was 2 for 4 with a double.
MILWAUKEE -- Why Elias Diaz rather than Tony Sanchez? Why no Vance Worley? What’s up with Pedro Florimon? And are any of these guys playoff eligible?
Here are some answers from Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington.
On why Diaz, who has no major league experience, as a third catcher instead of Sanchez?
Hurdle: “At the end of the day, based on performance.”
Huntington: “As we looked at how we would anticipate that player being used, it's going to be more likely a late-game defensive replacement. We think the world of what Elias can do defensively with his receiving, blocking, throwing. We feel that he's taken steps ahead of Tony on that front. Love Tony's offense and what he's capable of doing, but as we looked at the big picture of how that role may fit, as we try to win a game, we felt that the defense was going to be more important than the offense.”
Why no Worley?
Hurdle: “I do think there's going to be an opportunity. We've wanted to keep one man in rotation, to continue to pitch, in case somebody went down at any given time. A guy would have 100 pitches in his pocket. Vance threw eight innings last night, so there's a real good opportunity that he'll rejoin us.”
Huntington: “Vance's value to us as a starting pitcher probably works against him in that we want to keep him starting, want to keep getting him stretched out. While he's done very well at Indy, it's still just a handful of starts and rather than bring him into the bullpen mix here and have him not pitch for a handful of days, we want to keep him starting and keep him stretched out.”
What’s the status of Florimon, who is physically with the Pirates but not on the 25-man or 40-man rosters?
Huntington: “He's actually transferred to Bristol. Their season ends tonight, which would technically make him eligible to be selected tomorrow.”
(This eliminates the 10-day period a player usually must spend in the minors after being optioned or sent outright.)
These guys weren’t called up before Aug. 31. Are they playoff-eligible?
Huntington: “The rule changed for last playoff season, for last year. They simplified it. ... Clubs were getting creative in expanding their playoff-eligible roster, we were one of them, and Major League Baseball made a good move. Essentially, everybody who's on your 40-man roster is now eligible directly for your postseason roster. Anybody not on your 40-man roster but who was in your organization as of Aug. 31, midnight last night, is eligible to replace a player physically unable to play in a postseason game.”
This means that Jaff Decker, Bobby LaFromboise, Diaz and Rob Scahill are automatically eligible, while Travis Snider and Radhames Liz would need to replace an injured player. But they can replace Andrew Lambo, Brandon Cumpton or Corey Hart, who are on the 60-day DL.
Game: Pirates (79-50) at Brewers (55-75)
Time: 8:10 p.m. ET
Site: Miller Park
Standings: Pirates in 2nd place NL Central, five games back of Cardinals; first wild-card spot, 5.5 games ahead of Cubs for home-field advantage in wild-card game.
TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7
MILWAUKEE -- Here are the lineups for tonight’s game.
1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
2. Starling Marte LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Jung Ho Kang SS
6. Neil Walker (S) 2B
7. Pedro Alvarez (L) 1B
8. Francisco Cervelli C
9. Gerrit Cole RHP
1. Scooter Gennett (L) 2B
2. Jonathan Lucroy C
3. Ryan Braun RF
4. Adam Lind (L) 1B
5. Khris Davis LF
6. Domingo Santana CF
7. Jean Segura SS
8. Elian Herrera (S) 3B
9. Jimmy Nelson RHP
MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates added six players -- Jaff Decker, Bobby LaFromboise, Elias Diaz, Radhames Liz, travis Snider and Rob Scahill -- to the active roster as rosters expanded from 25 to 40. Read the breaking news story here.
I’ll have more when I return from the clubhouse.