SPORTS

Former Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider embracing his return to Toronto

04/22/2015 02:39 EDT | Updated 07/17/2015 03:59 EDT
TORONTO - Travis Snider still remembers the first time he had a real steak dinner in Toronto.

It was his rookie season with the Blue Jays and veteran teammates Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill took him to a fancy restaurant located in the city's downtown core.

On Monday night — a day before returning to Rogers Centre for the first time since being traded to Pittsburgh in 2012 — Snider went back to that same steak house.

"I had a nice Kobe steak," said Snider, now an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles. "(It was) a great way to say welcome back."

Snider was 2-for-4 with a strikeout and a run scored in Baltimore's 13-6 loss against Toronto on Tuesday night, the first of a three-game series between the two American League East clubs.

While he's off to a hot start with the Orioles this season — batting .325 through 12 games — he didn't always enjoy that level of success.

Selected in the first round (14th overall) by the Blue Jays in the 2006 draft, Snider mostly failed to meet the lofty expectations placed on him during his time in Toronto. He battled injuries, multiple demotions to triple-A, and even lost the starting left-fielder job out of spring training to Eric Thames in 2012.

"It wasn't until I started to struggle and get sent down, you go through the roller-coaster of emotion as a young player and as you mature you understand that balance is key..." Snider said before Tuesday's game. "There was a certain sense of pride that I wasn't able to balance in a productive way and take ownership over my swing, my approach, all the things I work on every day to get better.

"That's how I simplify things now. Show up to the ball park and have a plan and execute that plan in practice. And when the game rolls around, go play. Evaluate yourself at the end of the day, shower, and get ready for tomorrow."

Snider spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Pirates before being traded to Baltimore in January.

The 27-year-old has had time to "decompress" the negative aspects of his career in Toronto. Now, he says, he can look back on his four-plus years in the city as a "valuable experience."

And he credits the fans for that.

"I'm thankful for all the interactions I've had," said Snider, who made his major league debut at age 20 and quickly became a fan favourite.

"There was a lot of good and bad and the fans here in Toronto and Canada had my back all the way through that. Even moving on to different teams, (Toronto) will have that place in my heart, being a kid in this city, getting that experience."

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