With no guarantees, Snitker hopes to keep post

With no guarantees, Snitker hopes to keep post

NEW YORK -- Brian Snitker never expected to be managing in the Major Leagues this year. When he took over the Braves in May after Fredi Gonzalez was dismissed, Snitker did so as a loyal employee of the only organization he has worked for.

Now, with the days winding down on a Braves season that is finishing much better than it began, Snitker said on Wednesday that he hopes to get a chance to continue in the job.

Snitker knows there are no guarantees. His title remains interim manager, and the Braves have made no commitments beyond the final game of the season, on Oct. 2.

But with the Braves playing much better of late and the job feeling more comfortable to him, the 60-year-old Snitker was simply saying what he feels.

"It's like, you know what? I'd like a crack at this and just see," Snitker said. "If that's the route they choose, I'll be ready. If not, I'll do whatever."

Snitker has been an employee of the Braves since 1977, when he was a 21-year-old Rookie League catcher in Kingsport. He's been a Minor League player, a Minor League coach and manager, a Major League coach and now the Major League manager -- uh, interim manager.

The Braves, 9-28 when Gonzalez was dismissed, entered play on Wednesday night 51-63 under Snitker. They're 16-12 since Aug. 21, the fourth-best record in the National League in that span.

"I'm proud of how we're playing," Snitker said. "I'm proud that our guys go out every day and leave it all out there. They play like they're a game out of the division, and I'm proud of that."

The Braves have become a better team in the final two months of the season for many reasons. First baseman Freddie Freeman recovered from his poor start to have his usual excellent season, helped by the addition of Matt Kemp to the lineup. Ender Inciarte has become an effective leadoff man, with a .411 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.

After scoring the fewest runs in the Majors in the first half, the Braves are fifth in runs scored since the All-Star break. Their batting average since the break, .280, is the best in the Majors.

"It's a pretty good lineup we're running out there," Snitker said. "When we pitch, we win. We're a pretty good team when we pitch."

Snitker deserves some credit for the improved play, but he has also benefited from it. He admits his first couple of weeks as manager were something of a blur, as he adjusted to the job after spending the first month and a half of the season managing at Triple-A Gwinnett.

"Everything happened so fast," Snitker said.

Snitker had managed 2,571 games over 19 seasons in the Minor Leagues, so running the game wasn't a big issue. But everything else about the job was.

Snitker spoke with others who had been in similar situations, mentioning Glenn Hoffman, an interim manager with the Dodgers in 1998, and Pete Mackanin, who had three tours in the interim role before getting his first full-time job this year with the Phillies.

Snitker also learned by doing.

"The more I've done it, the more at ease I've gotten with it," Snitker said. "It's become more routine."

Snitker knows there could be just three series left before he gives up the job. He knows the Braves could choose a bigger name as they move into new SunTrust Park next spring.

He also knows he'd like a chance at the job for a full season.

If the Braves call, Snitker will be ready.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.