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Snyder becomes a man with a plan

Brad Snyder didn't need to change his plate-approach plans. He just needed a plan, period.

After batting .179 in June, the Buffalo Bisons outfielder has hit .333 in July in 13 games. During the Herd's 6-2 win in the series opener against the Syracuse Chiefs on Friday night, Snyder was on base all four times with two walks and two RBI singles. The only work Snyder had Saturday, when the Bisons were scheduled for a twi-night doubleheader, was signing autographs after the field was deemed unplayable due to a broken irrigation pipe.

"I've tried to develop a plan, a little better plan going up to the plate, instead of just trying to see the ball when I get there," Snyder said Friday. "Knowing what you want to go out there, what location you're looking to hit, it calms the nerves a little bit."

Bisons manager Torey Lovullo remains unworried about his 25-year-old, who is batting .258 overall and is third on the team with 10 home runs and fourth with 35 RBIs.

"I think all young hitters at this level have some growing pains," Lovullo said. "I think they have to go through a learning curve. He's holding his breath, staying afloat. His average is in a very respectable area. If he continues to grow and continue on the game plan, he'll be doing exactly what we want him to be doing."

Snyder, a first-round draft pick (18th overall) for the Cleveland Indians in 2003, is in his first season with the Bisons. He spent last year in Double-A Akron where he hit .270 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs. Appearing in 75 of the team's 96 contests this season, Snyder has hit eighth every time.

While Snyder has finished wrestling the June bug, he has another battle in the works -- against Dunn Tire Park. Before his performance against the Chiefs, Snyder was batting only .226 at home and .276 on the road. His solid gig Friday, which pitted the left-handed Snyder against a lefty in Syracuse's Jeremy Cummings, bumped his home average to .239.

"It's a little bit of a mind game here," Snyder said. "The park feels big in the hitter's eye, when the ball comes out of the pitcher's hand. It's kind of difficult to see sometimes. Later in the game when it gets dark it's fine. But, [during the day] there's a little bit of a glare. I mean everyone has to deal with it, but I guess it affects me a little bit more."

"There are some shadow issues here, no doubt about it," Lovullo admitted. "When the darkness comes in you can get a couple at-bats where you really see the ball. If the numbers are indicating that [Snyder] is better on the road we've got to get him to build some confidence at home."

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Jeremy Sowers' complete game Friday night was the Bisons' sixth of the season, the most since the team collected eight in 2002. Sowers did not allow an earned run in the 6-2 victory, dropping his ERA from 5.82 to 4.72 and improving to 1-4 with the Herd since being sent down by the Cleveland Indians. It was just his second win in 18 combined starts this season between Buffalo and Cleveland.

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Boston's Curt Schilling started his Major League rehab Saturday night with the Pawtucket Red Sox against Louisville after being placed on the DL for shoulder tendinitis on June 23. Schilling faced 11 batters in three innings (40 pitches), allowing two hits while striking out six.

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The Bisons and Chiefs will play a doubleheader today (1:05 p.m, Radio 1230 & 1330 AM) with Aaron Laffey (7-3) and John Koronka (0-1) pitching for the Herd. It will be Team Autograph Day, with players and coaches available on the field from noon to 12:30.

e-mail: jfriedman@buffnews.com

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