MLB Spring Training 2012: Blue Jays' Travis Snider Makes Changes for 2012

Bill Ford@billfordwritesCorrespondent IIIMarch 1, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 22:  Travis Snider #45 of the Toronto Blue Jays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on July 22, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Travis Snider experienced a difficult 2011 season, but he has come back with a positive outlook and made some changes this offseason to overcome the adversity from last year.

Snider seems to have matured a great deal during this offseason, and he has absorbed the difficulties and struggles from last season and learned from them to position himself for a successful 2012.

His trouble began in Feb. 2011 when he suffered a rib cage injury. The injury slowed him down and delayed his start in spring training.

Once the 2011 season began in April, he did not perform as expected and was demoted to the minor leagues after only 25 games into the season.

The emotional effect of a demotion to the minors after having worked so hard to make it to the majors can be devastating.

After being called back up and returning to MLB on July 4, he hit .357 with two home runs, 17 RBI and 11 extra-base hits in his first 13 games.

The excitement of his successful return crumbled when he only hit .136 in his next 11 games, which led to another demotion to the minors.

Although his demotions were tough, they gave him an opportunity to work on his batting mechanics. With hitting coaches assisting him, he opened up his batting stance and lowered his hands.

The staff believes that these changes in his mechanics will make him more effective and consistent at the plate, hitting to all parts of the field.

Snider has to compete this spring training against Eric Thames for the position in left field. Manager John Farrell said that for Snider to win the spot, he'll need to be consistent, productive and maintain a quality and productive swing.

Snider has set minor goals for himself to push toward the ultimate goal of making the major-league team. He has spent extra time in batting cages during the offseason refining his new batting mechanics, and is working to keep himself in shape.

He is taking things one day at a time, putting solid effort into each practice to get the most out of what he expects from himself.

If he does well in spring training and makes the team, 2012 could be the breakout season that Snider needs.