Smiling Snell keeps open mind with St. Louis

Smiling Snell keeps open mind with St. Louis

Smiling Snell keeps open mind with St. Louis
JUPITER, Fla. -- Right-hander Ian Snell arrived at Cardinals camp on Saturday with a smile, eager to start pitching and open to whatever possibilities this spring brings him.

The smile in particular is a change of pace, even from a couple of weeks ago. Just last month, a weightlifting accident during a workout with his brother-in-law left Snell with a couple of cracked teeth and in need of surgery. He was out of commission for about two weeks and has only started throwing again since roughly the beginning of February.

Yet that didn't dampen his spirits. Neither did the fact that there are no jobs available for a Major League starting pitcher with the Cardinals this spring. Snell is eager to be in a winning environment and excited to learn from some of the best hurlers in the game.

"I just wanted to come here because there's a lot of good pitchers here that I can learn from," he said. "[Dave] Duncan's a great pitching coach. I've heard a lot of great things about him. Maybe he's the guy that can get me back on track and get me where I should be. This is my prime now. I'm 29. Got to go after it now."

In 2007, Snell turned in a big year for the Pirates and appeared to be a star on the rise. Since then, things have been difficult for him, but he thinks St. Louis may be the place for him to turn it around.

"I'm just trying to basically get back to where I was the first two years with Pittsburgh," he said. "That's when the pitching coach there was there for two years and not changing constantly. I kind of lost focus and, how do you say it, my confidence in a way, in Pittsburgh. I [went] to Seattle and I kind of got it back, and then lost it again. It's been tough. It's the game, you know?"

Snell may have a shot at the last spot in the Cardinals' bullpen, but he also could be headed for Triple-A Memphis to start. He is in camp on a Minor League contract with a non-roster invitation.