The young man sitting on the dugout steps flashed a familiar smile. It was good to be back, J.T. Snow said Saturday afternoon.
He had just flown in from Colorado Springs, Colo., landing at noon and leaving only enough time at his Corona del Mar home to grab a sandwich before bolting for Anaheim Stadium.
"I couldn't wait to get here," he said.
Older, wiser, maybe even a bit more cynical, Snow made his return to the Angels, determined to adhere to a new directive from Manager Marcel Lachemann. In a brief meeting before the Angels played the Milwaukee Brewers, Lachemann welcomed Snow with some advice.
"He told me, 'We're not looking for you to do anything great, just help the team,' " Snow said.
There were no dramatics from Snow on his first night back. He made all the routine plays at first base, beat out a slow roller down the third-base line for his first hit of 1994 and later lined a single to right in a fairly mundane return from triple-A Vancouver.
In his first at-bat, he hit a towering drive toward the right-field fence, bringing the crowd of 23,952 to the brink of hysteria. But Brewer right fielder Turner Ward caught the ball on the warning track.
"I tried to become a better ballplayer," Snow said of his 53-game stay in Vancouver. "From the first day in Vancouver I told myself, 'Let's make the best of it.' I wasn't going to hang my head. Every day I took the field I tried to do something positive.
"To tell you the truth, when they told me (he was coming up), I didn't expect it."
A promotion had been rumored for weeks, but Snow said he stopped listening. When the Angels fired Buck Rodgers May 17, Snow was shocked. In hindsight, it might have opened at least one door for Snow. Rodgers wasn't a big Snow supporter, repeatedly questioning Snow's mental toughness.
"I just went about my business," Snow said. "My family is from here and they read the papers. There's a natural information pipeline.
"But I'm glad to be back. I'm looking at it as a fresh start. It's good to be here because this division is wide open. I know I can help this team a little bit. That drove me when I was down there (at Vancouver), knowing this division is so wide open. Maybe we can go to the playoffs."