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Chris Snelling Interview
"May The Force Be With You"

By Paul Gierhart

TPA:  You have been described as an Australian Lenny Dykstra. Who do you compare yourself to?

SNELLING:  AN 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 game?

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 CENTERFIELD.

TPA:  Did you have a difficult time coping with life in the states when you signed as a free agent at 17 years old?

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 U.S.?

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 HIM.


TPA:  Tell your fans what your baseball background was before you came to the states to play.

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 IS.

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?

SNELLING:  MY 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 FOR ME.


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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