Snell not satisfied with early results
Despite manager's approval, ace has designs on improvement
NEW YORK -- As he has watched each member of his starting rotation labor through this first month of the season, manager John Russell has been pretty forward with his postgame assessments.
Russell hasn't been afraid to admit when his starter didn't have his best stuff. And throughout the course of the month, he's challenged those same pitchers to step up and set the tone early for the offense.
Russell's comments concerning Ian Snell's four runs in 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday, however, weren't of that nature.
"I thought he threw the ball OK," Russell said.
At the same time, however, Russell was pleased to hear that his right-hander didn't agree with that observation. The Pittsburgh manager was more than content to let Snell provide his own motivation.
"I think he's throwing the ball well, but he's going to be hard on himself," Russell said. "He wants to be better. He wants to be that guy that's dominant."
It was no secret after his season-short 4 1/3-inning outing on Tuesday that Snell was not happy. He wasn't satisfied with the results. He wasn't OK with how he felt. And he wasn't about to let anyone take blame for the loss other than himself.
"I just don't feel like I'm in it right now," Snell said. "I just have to get back into the groove I was in last year."
It's been a comment Snell has made after a few of his six starts this season. Only once in April did Snell pitch past the sixth, and already three times this season, Snell has walked off the mound having allowed four runs.
These results have been in stark contrast to the start that Snell had a year ago. At the end of last April, Snell had finished seven innings in all but one start. His number of runs allowed in five games totaled just six.
So what has been the culprit this season?
"I'm trying to be too relaxed and trying to place the ball rather than do what I do, and that's throw hard," Snell said. "I've just got to get back to my original self and stop trying to be something that I'm not."
He's admitted to rushing in between pitches, a habit that has contributed to the 14 walks he has already issued. That includes five walks on Tuesday night against the Mets.
After signing a multiyear contract and earning the nod as the team's Opening Day starter prior to the season, Snell isn't going to find solace in the fact that he's picked up two of the five wins Pittsburgh starters have so far this season. Needless to say, pitching "OK" is not going to do moving forward.
"I think he's probably, in his mind, not throwing the ball where he wants to," Russell said. "He wants to compete, and he always wants to be a leader when he gets on the mound. He wants to be able to go far. And when he doesn't, he doesn't feel right."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.