Inciarte lobbies for Snitker to get Braves managerial job

 

Count center fielder Ender Inciarte among the chorus of Braves who believe that interim manager Brian Snitker should shed the interim tag and be hired as the team’s next manager.

Ender Inciarte is having the best half-season of his career and gives a lot of credit to interim manager Brian Snitker. (Curtis Compton/AJC file photo)

Ender Inciarte is having the best half-season of his career and gives a lot of credit to interim manager Brian Snitker. (Curtis Compton/AJC file photo)

After an injury-slowed first two months with the Braves, Inciarte rebounded to become one of baseball’s best leadoff hitters since the All-Star break, the best half-season of his three-year major league career. And he gives Snitker a lot of the credit.

“I’ve never been so comfortable playing for anybody in my career, and I’m really pushing for him to stay here; everybody here in the clubhouse really likes him,” said Inciarte, who has hit .351 with 21 extra-base hits and a .406 OBP in 68 games since the break, including .355 with a .905 OPS in his past 40 games.

“We all respect him, so you really want a guy like that on your team. You really want to play for him. I think everybody here has been doing that.”

The Braves were 9-28 when manager Fredi Gonzalez was fired and the 60-year-old Snitker was moved up from Triple-A manager to serve as interim manager. They are 56-64 under Snitker including 47-46 since June 15 and 21-13 in their past 34 games.

They’ve won nine of 10 entering Thursday night’s series finale against the Phillies, with only a three-game series remaining against the Tigers.

When told before Wednesday’s 12-2 rout of the Phillies what Inciarte had said about playing for Snitker, after Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis had similar comments last week, Snitker was asked how that made him feel.

“It makes me feel good,” he said, quietly. “Kind of validates what I was trying to bring here since I’ve been here. We’ll see, a week from today maybe I’ll know.”

 Meaning, maybe by then he’ll know if he’s got the permanent job. At this point, seeing how the team has responded exactly as front-office officials had hoped they would to the respected, amiable Snitker’s leadership, I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t get the job. I think the decision will be made quickly, too.

The Braves have gone from a team many were predicting in May would be historically awful, losing 110 or so games, to one that not only will avoid losing 100 games or having baseball’s worst record, but could now surpass last year’s 65-win total with three wins in the final four games, despite playing one game less than a year ago (they won’t make up  Sunday’s cancelled game against the Marlins).

In their past 26 games, the Braves are 17-9 with a .309 batting average, 4.34 ERA, 151 runs (5.8 runs per game) and 25 homers.

Markakis praised Snitker for being a good communicator, for establishing a set lineup and bullpen pattern, letting players know their roles and where they stood. Inciarte echoed those sentiments.

“If everybody know what their role is, we’re all going to be good,” he said. “I feel like everybody here knows what their role is, and Snitker has been great at communicating with us. So we know when we’re not playing a day or two days ahead. He’s been great since he’s been here about doing that.”

Markakis and Freeman said Snitker’s upbeat and positive nature was appreciated throughout the clubhouse. Freeman said the manager was so likeable that players “want to run through walls” for him.

“Life’s too short for me to beat them over the head,” Snitker said of his approach, “and I always say, they’re really good at what they do and they make a really hard job look easy a lot of times, these guys the way they play. And I understand how hard it is to play this game, so it’s just been real refreshing for me to see every day how those guys turn the page regardless of how the situation was the day before. They come out and every day’s a new day.”

Players used to say similar things about wanting to run through walls for legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox, Snitker’s former boss and a man that he considers a close friend and mentor. He talks or exchanges texts with Cox on a regular basis.

“I didn’t play for Bobby, but a lot of people say Snit is very similar to Bobby Cox,” Inciarte said. “I mean, me personally, I really respect him and I really want to play hard for him and win games for him. Only to give back what he’s been giving me the whole year, which is that confidence from Day 1.

“When he got here, I was hitting .215 or .220, and he just talked to me and said, I know where you’re going to be at the end of the year, just keep playing. So to me he’s been great. You can see the results with the rest of the team, too, the way we’ve been playing lately. So if you ask me, I really hope he can stick here for a long time.”

Inciarte had missed a month with a hamstring injury and was hitting .191 with one extra-base hit and one RBI in 49 at-bats when Snitker took over as manager. He still was hitting just .202 with a .278 OBP and .246 slugging percentage through 30 games on June 5, but by then Snitker had decided he was riding with Inciarte as his every-day center fielder, so impressed was he by his outstanding defense.

Snitker was confident the bat would eventually come around, citing Inciarte’s .292 average in two seasons with Arizona before he was traded to the Braves along with Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair in a one-sided December deal that sent Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks.

In 97 games since June 5, Inciarte has hit .322 with 30 extra-base hits (six triples), .378 OBP and .428 slugging percentage while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

Here’s one from the great Jerry Lee Lewis, who turned 81 today. Happy birthday to The Killer, one of a kind.

“WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOIN’ ON” by Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis, aka The Killer

Jerry Lee Lewis, aka The Killer

Come along my baby, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
Yes, I said come along my baby, baby you can’t go wrong
We ain’t fakin’, while lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Well, I said come along my baby, we got chicken in the barn
Woo-huh, come along my baby, really got the bull by the horn
We ain’t fakin’, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Well, I said shake, baby, shake
I said shake, baby, shake
I said shake it, baby, shake it
And then shake, baby, shake
Come on over, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
Oh, let’s go!

Alright

Well, I said come along my baby, we got chicken in the barn
Whose barn? What barn? My barn
Come along my baby, really got the bull by the horn
We ain’t fakin’, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Easy now
Shake it
Ah, shake it, baby
Yeah
You can shake it one time for me
Ye-ah-ha-ah, I said come on over, baby
Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
Now, let’s get down real low one time now
Shake, baby, shake
All you gotta do, honey, is kinda stand in one spot
Wiggle around just a little bit, that’s when you got it, yeah
Come on baby, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on
Now let’s go one time

Shake it baby, shake, shake it baby, shake
Woo, shake baby, come on babe, shake it, baby, shake
Come on over, whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on


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