Braves manager Brian Snitker, watched a spring-training workout seated next to his mentor, legendary former Braves manager Bobby Cox. (Curtis Compton/AJC file photo)

Snitker’s first opening day as big-league manager: ‘Honored and blessed’

NEW YORK – Brian Snitker woke Monday at the posh New York Palace, the Braves’ team hotel in Manhattan, and began his first opening day as a major league manager.

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said a few hours later, seated in the visitor’s dugout at Citi Field prior to the season opener against the Mets. “Woke up this morning, put the shades up, got a cup of coffee – it was pretty nice. It’s exciting. Any opening day is always exciting, and this is pretty special for me and my family….

“I couldn’t wait to get out here. Absolutely it felt great. It felt special. I’m honored and blessed and all that to be here.”

Snitker’s wife, Ronnie, is in New York with him for the opening series of his first full season as manager.

“She’s the one that allowed me to do this for all those years,” said Snitker, who’s spent his entire 41-year professional baseball career – minor league player, coach and manager at all levels – in the Braves organization. “She dragged my kids all over the country and was a single mom and held a job, did all the baseball cheerleading and school things when I wasn’t there, then she’d load them in the van and come see me for the summer. End of summer, load it back up and go.

“Like I say, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here.”

He was promoted from Triple-A manager to take over as Braves interim manager in May, after a 9-28 start got manager Fredi Gonzalez fired. Snitker did such an impressive job in leading a midseason turnaround that team officials listened to players’ suggestions and pleas, stripped the interim tag from Snitker’s title and gave him the full-time job in October, on a one-year deal with a club option.

The every-positive Snitker likes the team’s chances this year and has said since December that the goal is to win the National League East, even if no one outside the organization thinks they have a chance to do that.

“In spring training there was a good air, things were positive, guys liking where we’re at and liking our team, thinking we can be very competitive,” Snitker said. “A totally different feel than it was a year ago.”

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