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Patient approach paying off for Snider

Patient approach paying off for Snider

TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was looking forward to watching Travis Snider's approach at the plate on Tuesday night. That is precisely what the rookie right fielder was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to work on over the past three months, and Gaston wanted to see the results.

Before Snider stepped into the batter's box, all Gaston had to go on was the young slugger's statistics during his stay in the Minor Leagues. As impressive as the numbers were, the manager was more thrilled with what he saw in Snider's four plate appearances against the Red Sox in his first game back with Toronto.

"It was super -- just what we need," Gaston said. "He's more patient up there at the plate, too. I noticed that. ... I hope he stays right there. That'd be great."

In the Blue Jays' 10-9 loss to the Red Sox, Snider finished 2-for-3 with a solo home run, a single and a walk. Overall, Snider saw 19 pitches in his at-bats against Boston pitchers Josh Beckett, Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon. In his final trip to the plate, Snider drew the walk from Papelbon on five pitches -- never swinging once.

The 21-year-old Snider said he practiced a more patient approach while with Vegas, as Toronto's coaching staff suggested.

"That's what they tried to tell me all along," Snider said. "It was one of those things where I'm kind of a hard-headed individual sometimes -- you don't want to listen. But I really took that to heart when I got down to Triple-A, putting together those at-bats against guys that are going to try to get you to chase in big situations, and just take it one pitch at a time and just battle."

It was the type of approach Snider -- Toronto's top pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft -- displayed at the beginning of the season, when he broke camp as the Jays' Opening Day left fielder. In his first 14 games, Snider hit .310 with three homers, 10 RBIs and a .383 on-base percentage, striking out 11 times over 42 at-bats.

After that strong stretch, Snider struggled with his swing mechanics and approach, slipping to a .193 average with no homers, just two RBIs and a paltry .220 on-base percentage over the next 18 contests. In 57 at-bats over that period, Snider struck out 14 times, including 11 over his final 29 at-bats before being demoted to Triple-A on May 20.

At Triple-A, Snider hit .337 with 14 homers, 40 RBIs and a .431 on-base percentage over 48 games. The left-handed-hitting rookie thrived in the games before being called up, batting at a .448 clip with a .529 on-base percentage in 15 games this month, clubbing seven homers and driving in 15 runs over that span.

On Tuesday night, Snider said he felt like he was able to maintain the same approach he worked so hard on with Las Vegas.

"It's easier in front of 4,000," Snider siad. "But it's one of those things where if you want to play at this level, you have to learn to deal with it. I've had enough experience now to know what it takes, and just allowing [your approach] to take over is really the key."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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