TUCSON, Ariz. – Chris Snyder is still with the team that tried so hard to trade him, and he finds himself in an uphill fight for playing time.
The Arizona Diamondbacks catcher said he would have been fine with the purported deal last fall that would have sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays for one-time Diamondback Lyle Overbay.
“When it was going down, hey, I welcomed it,” Snyder said after Monday’s workout. “I looked at it as a new opportunity. I was looking forward to it. When it fell through, I’m still here. I’m comfortable here. This is where it all started and I’m happy to be back on the field.”
Snyder struggled at the plate early last season, then a back injury led to several stints on the disabled list.
Meanwhile, his replacement Miguel Montero went on a tear at the plate. Montero, who added a much-needed left-handed bat to the lineup, hit .331 after moving into the starting role in June. He wound up hitting .294 overall.
Snyder, who hit .200 in just 61 games, underwent back surgery in September, and the uncertainty over his physical condition may have led Toronto to pull out of its trade talks at the last minute.
Manager A.J. Hinch, himself a former major league catcher, said Montero is ahead of Snyder this spring, but he expects both to “play a lot.”
“Who knows what is going to happen?” Hinch said. “I do know that I’m going to need them both.”
The manager said he believes Snyder and Montero both deserve to be major league starters.
“We could go through team by team and see where they rank, but I don’t have a doubt in my mind that they’re two of the best 30,” Hinch said.
Snyder once was considered a cornerstone of Arizona’s young team, signing a US$14.5-million, three-year contract in December 2008. The club has an option for 2012.
Snyder said he is fully recovered from the surgery.
“I feel great physically,” he said. “Worked hard all off-season to get back out on the field and I’m here ready to go.”
Defensively, the six-foot-four, 245-pound catcher has been outstanding. He has five major league errors, none since 2007.
With a career .233 batting average, Snyder can be streaky at the plate.
Since being called up from double-A El Paso by the Diamondbacks in August of 2004, he has 52 home runs and 208 RBIs in five-plus major league seasons.
Snyder hit .252 with 13 homers in 2007 and .237 with 16 homers and a career-high 64 RBIs in 2008.
Now 29, he said he has no problem having to fight his way back into the lineup.
“There’s been many times I’ve been asked to fight for a spot and prove myself,” Snyder said. “I’ve done it in the past. It’s just one of those things. It’s part of it. There’s always going to be somebody behind you, somebody might be ahead of you. It doesn’t matter.”
The rivalry behind the plate, he said, is not personal.
“We get to work and put on the same uniform. That’s the way it’s been in the past,” Snyder said. “We both have had success in the past. If that’s the situation, that’s the situation. Whenever my name’s on the card, I’ll go out and do what I do.”