SAN FRANCISCO -- History will determine the significance of Travis Snider's latest pinch-hit heroics. The next two months will give perspective to his game-tying, two-run home run in the sixth inning Sunday in Denver.
Unquestionably, though, Snider came off the bench to wake up a stodgy group of Pirates on the verge of being swept out of Coors Field and point them toward a 7-5 victory. It was yet another example of how Snider, a onetime No. 1 Draft choice, has taken to a supporting role at the still-young age of 26.
Pittsburgh pinch-hitters lead the National League in numerous categories, including hits (42) and RBIs (27, tied with the Rockies). The loudest bat in that niche has been swung by Snider, the individual league leader with 12 pinch-hits.
Pinch-hitting specialists are a baseball staple, from Lenny Harris to Manny Mota to Jerry Lynch. Ordinarily, they are veterans in a latter phase of their careers. It is extremely rare to find someone specialize in the difficult craft at 26 -- because at that young age they tend to fight, not accept, it.
"You've got to buy into that role," said manager Clint Hurdle. "The biggest step forward is the mindset. 'I should be doing this. ... I didn't get to do that.' You've got to let go of where you were and embrace where you are."
During Spring Training, Snider talked very candidly of just keeping right field warm for Gregory Polanco, recalling that at one time he "was the big prospect." The baseball line always moves along. Snider had no qualms accepting his current place in that line.
In so doing, the popular Twitter personality has also morphed from Lunch Box Hero to Batter's Box Hero.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less