Travis Snider slumped, struggled and sweated it out all month, only to swing his way to the cycle on Saturday.
Snider went 5-for-5 to become the fourth player in team history to hit for the cycle as the Lansing Lugnuts defeated the Fort Wayne Wizards, 6-1, at Memorial Stadium.
After bouncing a single up the middle in the seventh inning for his fourth hit of the night, Snider became the third Minor Leaguer in one day to accomplish the supposedly rare feat. Born on Groundhog Day, Snider kept stepping to the plate and leaving with the same result.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," he said. "It was something I couldn't stop thinking about. I kept wondering if it was going to happen. It was a good feeling to get the single and I'm just happy to be here and be a part of three cycles, that's pretty special."
Alberto Concepcion of the Double-A Jacksonville Suns and Jedidiah Stephen of the short-season Aberdeen Ironbirds hit for the cycle earlier Saturday.
Snider hit a two-run homer in the first, an RBI triple in the third and doubled with two outs in the fifth. The former first-round pick capped his historic night with a single in the ninth, boosting his average 15 points to .315.
He said the cycle came into focus after the double. But the triple in the third put the thought in his head.
"After the triple, it slipped into my mind, if I was going to do it I knew I had the two hardest ones out of the way," said Snider. "I felt comfortable and didn't want to get ahead of myself, but after I hit the double was when it really hit me."
Snider tried his best to clear his mind in the dugout and said most of his teammates avoided the subject -- all but center fielder Sean Shoffit, one of his best friends in the Blue Jays organization.
"He came up to me and joked about laying down a bunt," Snider recalled. "I said, 'Don't joke about it, let's do it.'"
Wizards reliever Ernesto Frieri was quick to set the stage for Snider when he walked Scott Campbell and Shoffit to start the seventh. Snider walked to the plate as Fort Wayne fans, aware of the situation, started chanting for him to get a single.
Snider, however, worried what would happen if got a hit, especially one to the gap.
"It was something that crossed my mind, I didn't know what would be appropriate," he said about stopping at first base. "We had guys on base, so I was just looking for the first thing to make contact with."
With Murphy, Poe and even the Lugnuts bus driver looking on, Snider swung away.
"It was a curveball up at my eyes, but I knew I could get my bat on it," said Snider, who broke his bat on the pitch. "But as soon as I saw that ball go up, I had a feeling it would drop.
"It was pretty special. I got a handshake from every coach and every player, the trainer, the strength and conditioning coach, even our bus driver after the game. It was a really a warm feeling in the clubhouse."
The 19-year-old right fielder, selected by Toronto with the 14th overall pick in 2006, has lived up to expectations. He has seven homers, 56 RBIs and 84 hits in 71 games this season. On Saturday, he scored three times, hit his 23rd double and plated three runs, the most since going 3-for-6 with four RBIs on June 26.
Snider, however, said it hasn't come easy -- he entered the game in a 4-for-33 slide.
"It was a struggle for about a month, mentally and mechanically at the plate," he said, attributing his resurgence to the advice of roving hitting instructor Dwayne Murphy and Lugnuts hitting coach Charles Poe.
"[We've] been working really hard, before games, spending lot of extra time out there. Today was the first day I felt like I was back in my groove. I felt like I was confident and ready to hit, something I haven't felt for a month now."
Snider homered Friday and cleared the fences again in the opening inning Saturday. The Kirkland, Wash., native already has four career four-hit games, and his .313 average ranks eighth in the Midwest League.
"It was a good experience to go through it, to know you'll go through these slumps and just go out there and keep pushing it," Snider said. "I was fortunate to spend some time just grinding it out, to see my dividends pay off, so I feel good."