For Chris Snyder, hanging on to a career in baseball means driving 100 miles per hour up Interstate 95 from the Washington Nationals’ spring training complex in Viera, Florida to Orlando International Airport, telling your wife and three kids to meet you back in Phoenix tomorrow, cramming to learn a new pitching staff in two weeks, and remembering to breathe in between.
The crazy thing is, Snyder knew it might happen.
“My family had just gotten down (to Florida) three, four days ago,” he said. “I told my wife, ‘don’t unpack too much because we might be going somewhere else, either down the road in Florida or in Phoenix.’ So we got word that the Nationals, the two guys they had — (Kurt) Suzuki and (Wilson) Ramos — they’re both good and they were going with them. They left it up to us to pursue other opportunities out here.”
A 2002 draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Snyder and his family have lived in Phoenix for eight years. The call from the Angels was a welcome inconvenience.
The Angels printed out three-page bios of Snyder for media on Tuesday. The first bullet point under Snyder’s career summary reveals why the Angels wanted him:
• Owns the highest career fielding percentage (.9976) by a catcher in Major League history (min. 500 games).
Snyder has made 12 errors as a catcher in a career that began in 2004. He has been charged with three errors over the last two years combined. That’s how he keeps making a living out of the crouch at age 32. A career .225 hitter, Snyder knows that defense will determine his ability to extend his career. The call from the Angels, he said, “is a chance for me to go out and keep playing.”
Snyder was an “insurance policy” in Washington, in case something happened to Ramos or Suzuki in camp. Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn’t use that phrase when he was asked about Snyder on Tuesday.
“His skill set shows something that’s valuable to any organization,” he said. “At the plate, I think he has the ability to drive the ball at times. The primary focus at the position is being able to be a guy who can do what we need … even if it’s late in the game, where you pinch ran and he goes in and gives you defense — being that backup catcher to Chris is going to be starting a couple days a week. You have to bring a little offense too.”
Snyder played three defensive innings at catcher and ended the Angels’ 6-1 win against the Milwaukee Brewers by grounding out to shortstop.