ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves exercised their option on manager Brian Snitker for the 2018 season on Thursday, providing some stability to an organization now looking for a new general manager.
The decision on Snitker comes three days after general manager John Coppolella was forced to resign when an investigation by Major League Baseball revealed serious rules violations in the international player market. Gordon Blakeley, a special assistant to the GM, also resigned.
Snitker was named interim manager on May 16, 2016 and was named to full-time job following the 2016 season.
Snitker, who turns 62 on Oct. 17, has been with the organization since being hired as a roving instructor by Hank Aaron in 1981. He said Thursday he hopes to continue as manager "for the foreseeable future."
"I'd like to do it as long as I have a passion for it, a burning to get better," Snitker told The Associated Press.
"I still get an adrenaline rush when I drive to the major league ballpark. When I go through the tunnel in a major league ballpark on the road, that still jacks me up to go into that venue and be around the guys. When that becomes something I don't feel anymore, then I'll know it is time. Until then I want to keep doing it."
The Braves finished third in the NL East at 72-90, a small improvement from 68 wins in 2016.
The improvement was not as substantial as Snitker and the Braves had hoped. Even so, he said the major league debuts of such players as infielders Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies added hope for the future.
"I'm excited. I like where we're going," Snitker said. "I'm excited about getting to do the job again.
"It's a great opportunity for these players, for us and this organization. ... I like the way they all came up and I thought competed well. None of them were in awe of the situation."
Snitker and the Braves were held back by a mix of young pitchers not yet ready to succeed in the majors and such veterans as Bartolo Colon and Jaime Garcia who mostly struggled after being signed as one-year fill-ins. A highlight was 42-year-old knuckleball specialist R.A. Dickey, who has not said if he plans to return next season.
Snitker remained popular with players even as the team fell out of contention this year after reaching .500 (45-45) in mid-July.
"Brian is a life-long Brave who has earned the respect and admiration of our players, staff and front office," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said in a statement released by the team. "He has devoted his last 42 years to this organization and has proven that he is dedicated to guiding the team through this transition period. We are excited to have him back in the dugout to lead our club next season."
Hart said decisions on Snitker's coaching staff will be made in the coming weeks.
Those decisions were delayed by the MLB investigation into Coppolella. The Braves are waiting on possible penalties after Hart acknowledged violations of MLB rules were found.
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