Ian Snell has been optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis and, unsurprisingly, he is not taking it well. In this interview, he answered questions in a nonsensical manner and became defensive with reporters. He also claimed to have made the decision to go to Indy, saying that there was too much negativity with the major league club. As usual, he pointed fingers at everyone but himself.
Here are a few of the stranger quotes from Snell today. I believe this is Dejan Kovacevic asking the questions.
Q. So they left it up to you?
A. No, I left it up to myself. I wasn’t going to allow them to say what they want. I told them I want to go down. It’s best for the team.
Q. What do you need to do down there?
A. Nothing, really.
Q. Just get more efficient?
A. Nothing. You guys don’t understand it, nobody’s going to understand it unless you played baseball.
Q. Would you prefer this over a major league bullpen assignment?
A. It’s not my decision. Whatever, it didn’t matter. I said I want to go down. So, it’s my decision. I think that’s best for me and best for the team.
Bizarre responses right there, almost just a stream of consciousness from Snell. If you listen to the audio, you also hear some hostility between Snell and I believe John Perrotto. Snell seems to be someone that reads all of his press clippings and takes all criticism personally. Maybe today’s conflict stemmed from Perrotto’s post this morning, criticizing management for keeping Snell in the rotation.
Many have blamed Ian’s struggles over the past two years on a lack of mental toughness, but I have never been a big supporter of that theory. Snell is a silly guy that says and does goofy things, but that is not necessarily the root of his issues. I’ve always felt it was erratic command and a pretty limited arsenal beyond his fastball and slider, not to mention an inability to pitch inside. But I have to admit, Snell sounds thoroughly defeated in that audio clip. His defensive responses to questions and his swiftness to deflect blame to others seem to be a clear attempt to veil a lack of confidence, at least in my mind.
So, what is Snell’s future in Pittsburgh? I am generally not one to fall victim to knee-jerk reactions, but I am not very optimistic about Snell. I think the following quote from Neal Huntington (via the PBC Blog) says quite a bit about management’s feelings on the enigmatic pitcher. Huntington essentially says that Snell cannot handle the pressure of playing major league baseball. Not exactly a vote of confidence.
I think when a player struggles, the best and most successful players block it out. The ones that aren’t able to, it wears on them. I think in Ian’s case for the better part of a year and a half now he has not felt like he has been supported by the fans because he has struggled, and he has not been able to block that out. I think it will be a big step for Ian as it is with all players to make that jump. You go see triple A baseball, and there are guys that have more talent than guys do in the major leagues. But you put that second and third deck on and self-imposed pressure begins to take over. We all have to deal with stress in our jobs every single day. Some people deal with it quickly.
UPDATE (8:55 PM): Virgil Vasquez will start in Charlie Morton’s spot on Friday. Morton and his tender hamstring will be pushed back to take Snell’s scheduled start on Sunday.