ATLANTA -- Brian Snitker has served as one of the most respected and influential coaches within the Braves' farm system over the course of the past four decades. Though he had logged many years as a Minor League manager, there was never a thought of him handling the role at
ATLANTA -- Brian Snitker has served as one of the most respected and influential coaches within the Braves' farm system over the course of the past four decades. Though he had logged many years as a Minor League manager, there was never a thought of him handling the role at the big league level until he was unexpectedly given the opportunity this year.
A little more than five months after accepting the unenviable task of becoming the interim manager for an Atlanta team that had struggled under Fredi Gonzalez, Snitker can now legitimately say he stands as one of 30 men on Earth who will enter next season as a Major League manager.
The Braves, impressed by the way their players responded to the direction they were given during this season's final four months, opted to remove the interim tag from Snitker's title on Tuesday, when they announced he would return as their manager next year with a one-year contract and an option for the 2018 season.
"This is a good day for the Atlanta Braves," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "[Snitker] earned this opportunity. There was nothing he did that told us he was not the right guy for the job.
"He changed the clubhouse culture and created a positive vibe throughout our organization. There were multiple players who came to me this year and said, '[Snitker] is the best manager I've ever had.'"
Snitker learned of the decision early Monday afternoon, as he was driving to the Orlando area for this week's organizational meetings. After he reached his destination, he celebrated by having dinner with his son, Troy; his mentor, Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox; and close friend Greg Walker, the former hitting coach who has become one of the Braves' most valuable scouts over the past two seasons.
"It was exciting," Snitker said. "I told [Coppolella and Braves president of baseball operations John Hart] this season really stoked the fire for me. We had a great group of guys, and I'm excited to be around those guys again."
Snitker will have some familiarity within his coaching staff, as bench coach Terry Pendleton, first-base coach Eddie Perez, hitting coaches Kevin Seitzer and Jose Castro, and bullpen coach Marty Reed have all had their options for the 2017 season exercised. Chuck Hernandez will replace Roger McDowell as pitching coach, and Ron Washington will fill the third-base coach role formerly held by Bo Porter, who will stay within Atlanta's organization as a special assistant to the general manager.
Washington has been a beloved coach and manager within his recent stints with the A's and Rangers. He and Bud Black impressed the Braves when they interviewed for the managerial vacancy. Ultimately, however, Hart and Coppolella saw no need to alter the direction Snitker provided to a roster that should remain relatively intact during the offseason.
Snitker left his post as Triple-A Gwinnett's skipper to become Atlanta's interim manager when Gonzalez was let go on May 17 after a 9-28 start. The Braves went 59-65 under Snitker, and they finished this season by winning 20 of their final 30 games, including 12 of their last 14.
"I think a month after he took this job, we saw a different level of effort on the field and a different attitude in the clubhouse," Coppolella said. "This was not a decision that was based solely on what happened during the final week or month of the season. This is a good, winning man who made our team and our organization better."
Snitker, who will turn 61 on Sunday, has served as a player, coach, manager or instructor at both the big league and Minor League levels within Atlanta's system dating back to 1977.
"You can manage in the Minor Leagues all the years that I did, but nothing prepares you until you get here and do the job at this level," Snitker said. "I'm proud of all we accomplished this year. I'm proud of the players and the staff that helped me. I'm very proud of our body of work, and it's exciting to see what we have going forward."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.