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Snell Out; Connolly In

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Ian Snell won't pitch in the Arizona Fall League; Mike Connolly will take his place.

Two articles on this issue, the John Perrotto article above and this one from the Royals' team website, offer conflicting explanations for Snell's withdrawal. Here's Perrotto's:

Snell, 23, was supposed to report to the developmental league over the weekend and be available to pitch starting today. But general manager Dave Littlefield learned that Snell "decided he doesn't want to go."

The decision was not related to fatigue as reported on the league's official Web site. Snell logged 154 innings this season between the Pirates and Class AAA Indianapolis, and Littlefield wanted Snell to continue pitching.

Hmm. Here's Major League Baseball's passive-voiced explanation:

Neither team gave details about the changes, but it was thought fatigue might have played a part in Snell's departure... The Pirates were said to have found Snell's innings count high and decided to bring his season to an end.

Ian Snell is probably a jerk, and I can only speculate as to what's going on here, but it reminds me of this story, summarized by Wilbur Miller:

The controversy involving [J.J.] Davis heated up as 2004 spring training neared. He was out of options and so had to make the roster. It was widely expected that he would not do so, as stories about him having a bad attitude started appearing in the Pgh. media. These stories had the ring of the team trying to create a negative image of him to justify letting him go. For example, it was widely publicized that Davis left Venezuelan winter ball partway through the season, against the team's wishes. Pgh. sportswriters wrote extensively, with quotes from Dave Littlefield, that his decision to "go home" showed he wasn't willing to do what was necessary to succeed in the majors. Later, it came out that, rather than going home, Davis went to Arizona to take a lengthy and grueling conditioning course.

Why was Snell not quoted in either of these articles? I don't know what happened, but the Pirates' past suggests that this is part of a negative-publicity campaign against Snell. They don't like him, for whatever reason (be it his stuff or his personality), and my guess is that they're going to use every excuse to bury him in the bullpen or in the minors, just like they buried J.J. Davis. It's not hard to do if you can fling dirt freely in the media - already, the residents at one Pirate message board are declaring that they want Snell out of the organization.