No doubt he has been around the baseball block a few times.
Brian Snitker has managed the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Durham Bulls, the Richmond Braves, the Greenville Braves and the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves. Snitker has logged 15 years as a minor league manager.
He has ridden all the buses that he cares to, and he has eaten all the greasy hamburgers that he wants to. The 60-year-old Snitker has paid his dues, and most of that has come with the Braves organization.
Not only has Snitker managed in the minors for the Braves, he has also served as Atlanta’s third base coach and bullpen coach during different Major League stints. Snitker has been an Atlanta Brave spanning almost 40 years.
He was even a minor league catcher and first baseman for the Braves. But now Snitker is something else. He is the interim manager of the Atlanta Braves and has been since May 17. In that time Snitker has turned an awful team into a competitive team.
Snitker is starting to transform this team’s personality. He has taken some bad attitudes and turned them into wins. Snitker has injected some confidence into the clubhouse and out on the field. This is a guy that cares. Snitker demands everything that his players have on a nightly basis. That means hustling from the batter’s box to first base and from center field to the dugout. Going through the motions isn’t good enough anymore.
The new manager had a 17-21 record before Monday night’s game with the Cleveland Indians at Turner Field. The Braves are no playoff team, but they are a better team under Snitker, who was reared and bred in Macon. That would be Macon, Illinois.
All that Snitker wants to do this year is lay the foundation for a title contending team of the future in Atlanta. He thinks it can and will be done with a little time and a lot of workouts. The Braves have to learn how to win again on an everyday basis. Winning streaks have been few for this team this season, but the Braves did win seven out of their last 10 games prior to the series with the Indians. The Braves were only five games behind the fourth place Phillies on Monday.
Atlanta is anxious to get out of the National League East basement. The Braves do have some baseball pieces to work with already on the roster. Snitker sees no reason why the Braves can’t compete and win right now with first baseman Freddie Freeman (.282 batting average, 13 homers), second baseman Jace Peterson (.263 average), infielder Chase d’Arnaud (.273 average), center fielder Ender Inciarte (46 hits) and Jeff Francoeur (.265 average, 10 doubles).
The Snitker era in Braves baseball is also armed with a couple of flame throwers with pitchers Julio Tehran and Matt Wisler, who are both young and willing. They have all the necessary tools. Tehran also has 99 strikeouts and a 2.46 earned run average.
Wisler has 61 strikeouts on the year with a slightly inflated 4.22 ERA. Brian Snitker likes where he is and who he’s managing.
This is a baseball team that has a golden opportunity in the years to come. And Snitker could be the guy to lead the Braves out of the doldrums and into the playoffs in the near future.
The journey starts now.
Chris Fernsler Sports Writer