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New brain trust has Snitker optimistic, humbled

Braves manager enjoying working with GM Anthopoulos, eager to learn analytical side of game
MLB.com @mlbbowman

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Brian Snitker has committed his adult life to the Braves, and at no point over the past 40-plus years has he ever seriously entertained the thought of going to another organization. But at the conclusion of this past season, there was reason to believe his tenure as Atlanta's manager was likely over.

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella seemed intent on making a managerial change, and Snitker was questioning whether he wanted to continue working with Coppolella even if given the opportunity to extend his tenure as Atlanta's manager.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Brian Snitker has committed his adult life to the Braves, and at no point over the past 40-plus years has he ever seriously entertained the thought of going to another organization. But at the conclusion of this past season, there was reason to believe his tenure as Atlanta's manager was likely over.

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella seemed intent on making a managerial change, and Snitker was questioning whether he wanted to continue working with Coppolella even if given the opportunity to extend his tenure as Atlanta's manager.

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Snitker's fate was determined on Oct. 2, when Coppolella was forced to resign in the midst of an MLB investigation that led to him being placed on the game's permanently ineligible list.

Provided another one-year contract on Oct. 5, Snitker is now preparing for his third season (second full) as Atlanta's manager. He seems to have been reinvigorated as he has spent the past month working with Alex Anthopoulos, who was hired as the Braves' executive vice president and GM on Nov. 13.

"It's really nice to get to know and talk to Alex and see where he's at," Snitker said. "It's been easy. He's been a really easy guy to talk to."

Taking time away from the many planning discussions he has had with Anthopoulos during this week's Winter Meetings, Snitker met with media members Wednesday morning. Below are some of the highlights of this session.

Video: Snitker discusses prospect Acuna's potential

Regarding the likelihood Ronald Acuna will be in the lineup at some point during the 2018 season
Snitker: "I said last year, when they would send him over [to be an extra for Spring Training games], I was like, 'If you want this kid to have a breather, don't send him because I'm playing him.' He probably could have made our club out of Spring Training last year. He's an exciting kid. It's going to be exciting again to get him in our camp this year.

"Last year [during Spring Training], he came in as a very impressive young man. I was most impressed about the adjustments he would make on the fly and in at-bats. The kid's skill set defensively, what he brings offensively, the potential is going to be really good. We'll get him down there [to camp]. He'll be part of the mix."

Regarding the enhanced analytics approach Anthopoulos will indoctrinate within the organization
Snitker: "I'm 62 years old and I spent my entire career relying on my gut and my eyes. Getting to know the people that Alex has brought in, it's been enlightening to me, because this is kind of where we're at and where we're going in the game. I've spent the last couple days up in the suite talking to those guys, and they're showing us the information and there's a lot to it. It's very interesting for somebody like me that's -- I don't have that background.

"So it's going to be real beneficial, and the thing they preface everything by is, 'We're not going to push this on you. We're going to give you information.' And now I kind of get what I've been reading about, what I've been hearing about with the analytics side of the game; I'm already understanding what that's all about and now as these guys say, we're going to get the information and get it in the players' hands."

On new bench coach Walt Weiss, who has been present during this week's Meetings
Snitker: "The guy is just a baseball guy. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and it's been fun these last few days just hanging out and getting to know him more, too."

Thoughts on once again using an eight-man bullpen
Snitker: "I think probably the eight-man bullpen fits us, because just with the youth that we have in our starting rotation. I think we're going to need that flexibility in the bullpen. You learn how to run the game, it's different, I think, in the middle innings is where you really feel it. A guy's having a rough outing in the fourth or fifth inning, and all of a sudden we get down there and we have to use a guy out [in the 'pen]. Now you're later in the game and you're shorthanded on the bench, but it's something that you just kind of learn to live with and manage around. As you play teams and you see in the industry, it's pretty much what everybody's going to, that eight-man bullpen. Right now, that's probably what's going to benefit us the most."

Projected the Opening Day starting rotation
Snitker: "From where we ended last year, Mike Foltynewicz, Julio Teheran, Luiz Gohara, Sean Newcomb and then we're probably going to look for a [No.] five. There's going to be competition throughout the whole club this year."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

 

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