Snell to Howard: ‘Who’s your daddy?’


BRADENTON, Fla. — Ian Snell heard the sound of the ball meeting Ryan Howard’s bat, and immediately feared the worst.

“I thought it was World War III or something,” Snell said. “It was a loud crack.”

Howard’s home run sailed over the batter’s eye in center field — a blast of 500 feet or more.

“That was a freaking bomb,” Snell said. “I’ve never given up one that went that far. Not even (Albert) Pujols hit one like that, and he hit three off me in one game.”

Howard downplayed his titanic clout, smiling and suggesting the ball’s flight was aided by the 30 mph wind.

“I just got a good pitch and hit it,” Howard said. “I got it up and it’s kind of windy out there today. It kept carrying.”

But the smile on Howard’s face said that he knew he’d really mashed one.

“We came up in the minors together so we kind of have our little thing when we face each other,” Howard said. “We have to try to keep from laughing. But we get competitive because we’re pretty good friends. It’s different, facing each other.”

Snell pitched six innings. He struck out the final batter he faced — Howard.

“I’m still his daddy,” Snell said, grinning.

• GM Neal Huntington today described the bullpen situation as “really unstable.” The Pirates have an offer on the table for free-agent lefty Will Ohman, who reportedly is seeking $2 million-plus a year.

However, Huntington said it is not imperative to bring in a reliever from outside the club to fix the bullpen.

“It’s not imperative, but we’ll continue to look,” Huntington said. “We don’t think we have to go get somebody. The relievers who break with us April 6 are there Opening Day may not be there at the end of the year. We have some options and depth this year.

“We’ve seen that the options we have, the depth we have, is more than capable of getting major league hitters out. We just need to do it on a consistent basis. We have some young relievers who’ve tried to do too much at times, and they’ve also done a great job at times.

• Snell has been battling a blister on the instep of his right foot. “It’s still red and it still bothers me,” Snell said. “I’m wearing a pad on it. As long as I wear the pad, it’s fine.”

• Shortstop Jack Wilson fouled a ball off the inside of his left knee yesterday in a minor league game. Wilson was not in the lineup today against the Phillies, but his injury is not believed to be serious.

• The Pirates have 10 saves, tops among Grapefruit League teams.

• Robinzon Diaz today was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, despite batting .423 this spring. Huntington did not rule out calling up Diaz later this season if newly anointed backup Jason Jaramillo struggles.