Veteran Comebacks

AUBURN, Ala. - Matt Snyder seems to be getting his swing back. At least his productivity is showing that to be the case.

There'd been signs of that happening for a while. But the first two games of the Auburn series, there's been a much more confident Snyder than most of this season.

This actually started March of last year in the Friday night game at Tulane. There was the dive and crash to make a play at first base, followed by a remainder of the season being a designated hitter. Then surgery on his shoulder in June, the extensive rehab, and then another dive and injury playing first base in a preseason practice in January.

The junior from Centreville, Va., just wasn't going to be able to play first base. The risk of losing his bat was always too great for that to happen.

So with a shoulder brace in place, Snyder struggled to regain the form that once made him such a potent threat at the plate. Auburn must be thinking he's as good as ever. Thursday night in the Rebels' 6-3 loss, Snyder went 2 for 3 with a run scored. Friday night when the Rebels won 10-7, Snyder was only 1 for 5. But that one was big as his three-run, third-inning blast over the right field wall gave Ole Miss a 6-2 lead.

He grounded out to the pitcher in the seventh to get Alex Yarbrough home after the Rebel second baseman had walked. It was the last run of the game for Ole Miss, putting the Rebels out front 10-4 at the time.

Snyder said it's good to be producing for this Rebel team, a ballclub that desperately needs him to help offensively.

"I was a guy they were really depending on to get a lot of stuff done for the team this year," he said. "So I'm really trying the last part of this season to do exactly what they wanted me to do. Right now I feel like I'm definitely doing my job."

He said he feels comfortable up there now.

"Right now my approach is a whole lot better than it's been," Snyder said. "I want to give myself a chance at the plate."

Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said Snyder's improvement and getting back into the groove are obvious.

Jake Morgan hasn't pitched since the Sunday game against Alabama the first SEC weekend
Bruce Newman
"Matt was terrific tonight, and he looked good last night," Bianco said. "He's really starting to come along."

Bianco doesn't mince words on how important he feels the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder is to this team.

"We've said it so many times, it's hard for me to imagine that we're going to be good, be the team that we want to be, without him. It's nice to see him swinging it again," Bianco said.

It was also nice to know Jake Morgan threw the baseball for the first time in more than two weeks Friday. There had been an extended layoff, and now Morgan is working his way back.

"Jake threw (Friday), and felt it, but no pain," Bianco said. "So that's good news. Not great news but good news. Tomorrow we'll push it a little more."

Bianco said Morgan is on a schedule now to see just where he is.

"(Friday) he threw as hard and as long as any of the rehab throws since he hurt his arm," his head coach said. "So that was good news. It wasn't like we just played catch at 60 feet and we're not really sure. I guess you could call it a good test.

"Saturday he'll throw a little further, a little harder, and hopefully he's going to be OK. He'll play catch again, not as long, on Sunday, and bullpen on Monday."

Bianco explained further his evaluation of Morgan's session on Friday.

"It's in the joint," he said of where Morgan feels it. "When he releases the ball and extends, he can feel it in there. Most guys don't, but it's that inflamation. But it's not pain."

Bianco said they will continue to monitor Morgan and his progress and see where things go.

"They say as long as he can throw, he's fine," he said. "Structurally he can't do any damage. It's not like it's soft tissue and there's a tear and there's a chance it's going to rip or something."

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