5/10/2013 5:01 P.M. ET
10 things to know about Travis Snider
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Here are 10 things to know about Pirates right fielder Travis Snider, and don't even get us started on why he hasn't changed his @Lunchboxhero45 Twitter handle despite wearing No. 23 after being traded from Toronto for Brad Lincoln last summer:
1. He would rather crush a baseball than crush a ribeye, but we had to ask to be sure.
"Crushing baseballs comes first," he said. "Secondly, crushing ribeyes. But for me it's a close race and I hold them both very close to my heart."
2. On Friday morning, he visited the MLB Fan Cave and taped an upcoming video in which he critiques the nine Cave Dwellers' takeout-food choices. Snider said the whole @Lunchboxhero45 foodie persona goes back to his days at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, Wash.
"I played up in football, and a lot of the guys would take me out to eat and saw me eat a few different times, put on a pretty remarkable display," he said. "It's something I've been able to do since I was a young kid. Just over the years, I've grown to love the culture of food, the restaurants, the food prep, everything that goes into making a great dish. And most importantly, enjoying a great meal."
3. His girlfriend, Isabel Bauche, visited the Fan Cave with him, and she points out that while he is an extreme meat lover, she does not eat meat.
"I guess opposites attract," he said. "I never have to worry about sharing my steak when I go out to eat, which is a plus. And if there's some kind of leftover protein, it's going to be slid over across the table to me. I guess it's a win-win. Even though I don't get to cook her steaks, at least we get to enjoy a salad and whatever's leftover on her plate.
"I really do enjoy getting behind the barbecue or working the oven or the stove. We like to mix and match. She prepares some stuff, I prepare some stuff, so it's a good working relationship. And I guess that's what it's all about."
4. They first met in Cabo San Lucas, on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. He was 10 and she was 7. She is from Mexico. "My father owns a restaurant in Cabo and he was visiting there," she said. "He loves the beach."
5. Five years after becoming the youngest position player (age 20) in the Majors at the time, he treasures every opportunity to fulfill his own dreams -- no matter what labels are placed on him by others. And there have been many.
"For me, I got there young, I've been up and down for a number of years now, but it's something I never take for granted, knowing this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that a number of people don't get," he said. "So I'm thankful for every time I get to put on this uniform and go out and play the game I love."
6. His plate discipline is better in Pittsburgh than it was in Toronto. According to FanGraphs.com, Snider's contact percentage is up to 81.7 percent this season, the first time in the 80s.
"Just try to put together good at-bats, compete when I get in the box," he said. "Hitting in the two-hole, the job is to get on base, get guys over, for the three-four-five hitters behind you. It's been a different change for me, coming from a three-four-five guy in the Minor Leagues, to when I play at the Major League level, I've been bouncing around in the lineup. But being able to go out and embrace that role every single day, and be more patient at the plate. For me, it's a matter of getting good pitches to hit, your contact rate is going to go up and you're going to be more successful. So just trying to put together good at-bats every single day and compete."
7. No offense to Reggie, his girlfriend's Yorkie, but he wants an English Bulldog.
"I know a lot of people say they drool and they're lazy. But I enjoy looking at, and playing with those kinds of dogs. Laying on the couch on Sunday. Right now I've got a little Yorkie, and he's my assistant GM during fantasy football season. So we enjoy our time on the couch, he knows where to lay when Sunday morning rolls around. It's always good to have man's best friend right there next to you."
8. Speaking of fantasy football, he is hardcore. Any tips?
"Study up. I mean, fantasy football, it's not a walk in the park. It's not a show-up-on-Sunday-and-get-it-done. You have to have your routine throughout the week. You've got to know who's on the injury reports, who's moving into starting roles, and what guys have a lot of upside that you can pick up off the waiver wire. I've learned over the years from some pretty intense players, become an intense player myself, and every year I look forward to September rolling around, get the draft going, and get the camaraderie in the clubhouse, talkin' trash with the boys, because I was the 2012 Pirates fantasy football champion."
9. Crabhunting back home in Washington is as good as it gets.
"It's intense," he said. "People go and hunt animals out in the woods, and that's all fine and great. But in the Northwest, we have an abundance of Dungeness crab. And when the season's right, when the tides are right, we go across the water, we go out there in waders, headlamps at 2 in the morning when the tide is all the way out, and we'll go and we'll hunt crab with rakes. We'll wade through the water for a couple of hours, a good group of guys, a good group of girls, are out there, it's always a fun time. We get to go back and boil fresh crab right there on the fire, and eat it without any butter or salt needed, because it's the freshest of the fresh."
10. Manager Clint Hurdle is "the most motivational guy" he ever has been around.
"From the emails to the speeches to the text messages, he's a guy who's been through adversity, he's a guy who understands the mind, the way it works, the way it works against you, and how to bring people together as a whole, working toward as a common goal, and keeping the focus on each and every day that we have to put in everything we've got and go out there and win ballgames," Snider said.
As for @Lunchboxhero45, he said he considered changing it but worries about shaking up his 60,000-plus followers. "It's the one I've had since I started on Twitter and I like to keep it original," he said. (Memo to Travis: DM @MLB and we'll help you update it.)