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Snell’s struggles

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CHICAGO — I did not see Ian Snell’s most recent victory, when he gave up a run in six innings June 11 against Washington. I was off that day, and only heard bits of the game on my XM radio. So I’ll have to take the word of folks who were at PNC Park, and later told me Snell looked like he had made progress.

I did see Snell throw tonight against the White Sox — all 105 pitches in only four-plus innings. If he had taken a step forward a week ago, he took two backward tonight.

“It seemed like he never could get anything going,” manager John Russell said. “He has been showing that he’s trying to turn the corner. Hopefully, tonight is not a huge setback for him. Too many misfires, getting behind in the count … He’s going to have to get the confidence to throw his pitches down in the zone. Something is off a little bit with him.”

There was a time Snell had the best fastball among the Pirates’ starters and he knew how to set it up. He enjoyed playing mind games with batters — Is the fastball coming now? Maybe, maybe not? Here it is! Oh, you missed it!

Now, Snell seems to be out-thinking himself on the mound. He doesn’t challenge hitters.

“It’s tough to take, but you’ve got to wear it sometimes,” Snell said. “All I can do is look forward to my next start.”

If he gets one.

General manager Neal Huntington already has said he will not hesitate to send any struggling player who has options back to the minors, if it will help spark a turnaround.

Snell still has options. What he doesn’t appear to have right now is confidence.
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