TPA: You have been described as an Australian Lenny
Dykstra. Who do you compare yourself to?
AUSTRALIAN LENNY DYKSTRAÖITS FUNNY BEING DESCRIBED AS HIM BECAUSE WHEN I
WAS LITTLE I GREW UP WATCHING HIM PLAY WITH DALE MURPHY. HE WAS DR. DIRT
AND MURPHY WAS MR. CLEAN. I LOVE TO GET DIRTY, I LOVE DIVING AND MAKING A
CATCH IN THE OUTFIELD, I LOVE DIVING IN THE MUD AND STEALING A BASE. I
GUESS I LOVE IT BECAUSE TO ME GETTING DIRTY IS A SIGN OF PLAYING HARD; I
TRY TO PLAY HARD EVERY DAY, EVERY GAME, AND EVERY PLAY. LENNY DYKSTRA
PLAYED HARD TOO. I GUESS THAT'S WHERE IT CAME FROM, BUT AS FAR AS TALENT
AND PLAYING ABILITY I DONíT THINK I COME CLOSE TO MR. DYKSTRA BUT IT IS
COOL BEING COMPARED TO HIM.
TPA: You were second in
the Class A Midwest League with a .342 average when you broke your hand
and injured your wrist diving into an outfield wall. Has this injury
changed your style of play?
SNELLING: THE INJURY I
SUFFERED WAS A DIRECT RESULT OF OVER AGGRESSION BUT I DON'T THINK IT HAS
CHANGED OR WILL CHANGE THE WAY I PLAY, ITíS WHO I AM AS A BALL PLAYER AND
AS A PERSON, IF IíM GOING TO DO SOMETHING IíM NOT GOING TO DO IT AT 50%.
SOME PEOPLE SAY I COULDNíT HAVE MADE THE PLAY (WHICH I DIDNíT) BUT I
THOUGHT I COULD HAVE AND IF THE SAME BALL IS HIT INTO THE GAP I WILL
BE DIVING FOR IT AGAIN.
TPA: Your hustle and all-out
play has become your trademark. The Mariners have fallen in love with your
attitude and your ability to hit the ball on the fat of the bat. Though
you are an aggressive player, you have developed patience at the plate
with more walks than strikeouts. And you run well with solid defense in
centerfield. Does Chris Snelling have any deficiencies in his
SNELLING: I THINK I HAVE A LOT OF DEFICIENCIES
IN MY GAME. MY BASE RUNNING IS ATROCIOUS, IM TRYING TO GET A LITTLE FASTER
ON THE BASE PATH. MY SWING ALWAYS NEEDS IMPROVING, MY STRENGTH, BASICALLY
EVERYTHING IN MY GAME CAN GET BETTER.
TPA: Where are
you starting the 2001 season?
SNELLING: I AM STARTING
IN THE CALIFORNIA LEAGUE FOR THE SAN BERNADINO STAMPEDE IN
TPA: Did you have a difficult time
coping with life in the states when you signed as a free agent at 17 years
SNELLING: I HAD A LOT OF DIFFICULTIES WITH NOT
ONLY BASEBALL BUT ALSO THE LIFESTYLE WHEN I FIRST SIGNED. I HAD TO ADJUST
BEING AWAY FROM HOME AND HAVING TO DO ALL THE LITTLE THINGS ON MY OWN. I
DID STRUGGLE BUT IT WORKED OUT GOOD BECAUSE IT MADE ME A STRONGER PERSON
AND BETTER BALL PLAYER.
TPA: Do you still keep in
touch with Dave Nilsson and how did he help you when you first came to the
SNELLING: I OCCASIONALLY SPEAK TO DAVE NILSSON.
I PLAYED WITH HIM ON THE OLYMPIC TEAM AND PREVIOUSLY ON SENIOR NATIONAL
TEAMS FOR AUSTRALIA. HE WAS A BIG HELP JUST WATCHING HIM PLAY, HOW HE GOES
ABOUT HIS BUSINESS. I LEARNED A LOT OF LITTLE POINTERS OF TRUSTING YOUR
HANDS AND HAVING CONFIDENCE IN MY OWN ABILITY, THATíS WHAT I LEARNED FROM
TPA: Tell your fans what your baseball
background was before you came to the states to
SNELLING: MY PLAYING BACKGROUND BEFORE I SIGNED
PROFESSIONALLY WAS PLAYING ONCE A WEEK FOR A LOCAL CLUB AND PLAYING FOR
STATE AND NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAMS. SPORTS ARE NOT PLAYED THROUGH THE
SCHOOL SYSTEM LIKE HERE. THEY ARE PLAYED THROUGH DISTRICTS AND COUNTY'S. I
PLAYED FOR THE SYDNEY STORM IN THE AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE AND I THINK
THAT'S WHERE I CAME IN CONTACT WITH SOME SCOUTS. I NEVER PLAYED MUCH AS A
LITTLE KID BECAUSE I PLAYED ABOUT 5 DIFFERENT SPORTS AND ALL I HAD FUN
PLAYING. I THINK I ENJOYED BASEBALL THE MOST BECAUSE IT WAS CHALLENGING
AND HARD TO BE CONSISTENTLY GOOD AT, AND IT STILL
TPA: How does the Australian league differ with
itís American counter-part?
SNELLING: THE AUSTRALIAN
LEAGUE DOESN'T REALLY DIFFER ALL THAT MUCH FROM THE AMERICAN STYLE OF
PLAY. I THINK AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL IS RELATIVELY THE SAME, THE LEAGUES ARE
OF HIGH QUALITY BUT I THINK THE OVERALL STANDARD IS NOT AS GOOD AS IT
IS HERE. THE LEVEL IS COMPARED TO HIGH ďAĒ BALL BUT SOME NIGHTS YOU
MAY FACE A BIG LEAGUE STARTER IN LUKE PROKOPEC AND OTHER NIGHTS YOU MAY
FACE A GUY WHO HAS NEVER PLAYED PRO-BALL. I THINK AUSTRALIANS PLAY THE
GAME HARD AND I THINK THATíS WHERE MY STYLE OF PLAY HAS DEVELOPED. THE
COACHES HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE AND KNOW THE GAME AND HOW IT IS
SUPPOSE TO BE PLAYED.
TPA: What role does your
family play in your baseball career?
FAMILY HAS PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN MY CAREER. I CAN REMEMBER MY MOTHER
DRIVING ME TO TOURNAMENTS THAT WERE 7 HOURS AWAY; THEY HAVE ALWAYS
SUPPORTED ME IN ANYTHING I HAVE CHOSEN TO DO. MY FATHER IS MY GO TO GUY
WHEN I AM HAVING PROBLEMS WITH CONFIDENCE OR SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY
SWING. ITíS ACTUALLY AMAZING HOW MUCH MY FATHER KNOWS ABOUT MY SWING
CONSIDERING HE HAS BEEN A TENNIS COACH HIS WHOLE LIFE. HE CAN PICK UP
LITTLE THINGS THAT IM DOING WRONG, SAY IF MY HANDS ARE DROPPING A LITTLE
BIT, HE KNOWS AND I DON'T. HE IS VERY GOOD AT THAT. HE HAS A LOT OF
EXPERIENCE DEALING WITH PROFESSIONALISM AND THE LIFE THAT GOES WITH IT AND
HE IS VERY UNDERSTANDING.
TPA: Why do you write
ďYODAĒ under your autograph?
SNELLING: THE YODA
THING. WELL, MANY PEOPLE HAVE ASKED ME THIS AND ITíS HARD TO EXPLAIN TO A
PERSON WHY I WRITE THE NAME OF AN UGLY LOOKING GREEN GUY IN MY AUTOGRAPH.
I DO IT NOT BECAUSE OF WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE. IT STARTED BACK WHEN I WATCHED
STAR WARS EVERY DAY FOR ABOUT 5 YEARS, ALL THROUGH MY HIGH
SCHOOL YEARS. I DO IT BECAUSE ITíS MY FOCAL POINT. TO ME A FOCAL
POINT IS SOMETHING TO GET YOUR MIND OFF WORRYING ABOUT YOUR TECHNIQUE.
WHEN IíM FEELING DOWN OR UNCONFIDENT I GO BACK TO WHAT HE SAID TO LUKE
SKYWALKER ON PLANET ENDOR JUST WHEN LUKE IS ABOUT TO FIGHT DARTH VADER IN
ďRETURN OF THE JEDIĒ. HE SAYS, "TRY NOT, DO OR DO NOT, THERE IS NO TRY".
ITíS A MENTAL THING AND IT WORKS FOR ME. PEOPLE SAY IíM IMMATURE FOR
HAVING IT AND BELIEVING IT BUT BOTTOM LINE IS IM TWISTED AND IT WORKS
I would like to thank Chris Snelling for his time
in answering my questions. It really made my day to have the opportunity
to interview a true Top Prospect!
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