Snell acquisition paying off for Mariners

Snell trade paying off for Mariners

TORONTO -- The midseason trade with the Pirates that brought right-hander Ian Snell to the Mariners looks better each time he pitches.

Snell is well on the way to solidifying a spot in next season's starting rotation.

And a funk that became so bad earlier this season that he actually asked to be sent to the Minor Leagues is just an afterthought.

"I am getting over all the anxiety and stress level that I had in Pittsburgh," he said. "I am getting all that out of me and getting back to my old self."

The Mariners probably weren't sure what they were getting on July 29, when they sent shortstop Ronny Cedeno and former No. 1 Draft choice Jeff Clement to the Pirates for Snell and former National League All-Star shortstop Jack Wilson.

Snell, a 14-game winner for the Pirates in 2006, brought a 2-8 record and 5.36 ERA with him.

After a solid debut against the Rangers, surrendering two earned runs in six innings, Snell stumbled in back-to-back home starts. Six walks led to a second-inning departure against the Rays and the Yankees scored eight runs off him in six innings.

But a few skull sessions with manager Don Wakamatsu and pitching coaches Rick Adair and John Wettleland, along with a few mechanical adjustments have helped turn Snell's season around.

He pitched well enough on Saturday -- two runs in 6 2/3 innings -- to win his sixth game for Seattle, but had to settle for a no-decision in the extra-inning loss to the Blue Jays, leaving him with a 5-2 record and 4.17 ERA with the Mariners.

"I thought that was the best game I have seen him pitch," Wakamatsu said. "I was talking to [catcher] Adam Moore and even the umpire [Brian Runge], and they were commenting about the quality of his pitches, the movement of his pitches. He did it all today.

"That was an awfully good performance and he definitely has worked himself into a strong position [for next season]."

"I'm just trying to keep doing what I have been doing and progressing," Snell said. "Adair has helped me out a lot since I've been here and I've been watching Fifi [Felix Hernandez] and some of the other pitchers in the league.

"There are a lot of good pitchers in the American League and I watch them."

The best ones, he said, keep their composure at all times.

"They don't let anything bother them," he said. "I have been working on that."

In regards to the early returns of the four-player trade:

• Wilson currently is nursing a sore right heel after initially playing with a sore left hamstring. He is batting .224 with one home run and eight RBIs in 107 at-bats.

• Cedeno is batting .258 with five homers and 21 RBIs for the Bucs.

• Clement was not promoted to the Pirates in September after hitting .224 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs for Triple-A Indianapolis.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.