"I couldn't be happier," Snyder told MLB.com. "It's been a long offseason, very stressful with the uncertainty. But all that washed away today with what happened. I couldn't be in a better place right now. I'm fired up and excited and ready to get out there and play and be a part of it."
Snyder, 30, hit .271 with three homers and 17 RBIs in only 34 games for the Pirates last year before undergoing season-ending surgery in June to repair a herniated disk. Snyder says he's completely healthy and has been training this winter as he would have done during a routine offseason.
"The plans were to get back on the field at some point last year, and I just ran out of days," Snyder said. "There haven't been any setbacks, and everything's been smooth sailing since then. I feel great. It's been a normal offseason for me. I have no restrictions or anything, and I'm catching bullpens and hitting. I'm just looking forward to getting ready and getting out there for spring."
Snyder was drafted by the D-backs out of the University of Houston and spent the first seven years of his career in the desert. He hit 62 homers in 556 games with the D-backs, including 16 homers in 2008, and he slugged 15 combined in '10 with Arizona and the Pirates, who acquired him in a trade at the Deadline. He had a 240-game errorless streak snapped in '10.
The addition of Snyder gives the Astros more options behind the plate. Castro, who missed all of last year after tearing his ACL, could be ready for Opening Day, but his workload is likely to be reduced when the season starts. Backup Humberto Quintero re-signed for $1 million, but he's had recurring back issues as well.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow talked to Castro's doctor last week and was told he's progressing ahead of schedule, but the Astros decided they needed more depth at catcher.
"That's a position where you really want to be protected," Luhnow said. "To be able to bring in a guy like Snyder who has experience and can add value both ways, that's why we made that decision. You've got three guys that have Major League experience, and you need to have that. It's a position that affects every other position on the field if you're short there."
Snyder grew up in Houston cheering for the Astros. He attended Spring Woods High School -- the same high school Roger Clemens attended -- and was a college teammate at Houston with Michael Bourn, whom the Astros traded to the Braves last July. Needless to say, the Astros have always been special to Snyder.
"During the course of my career, I've always kept an eye on them," he said. "I had some buddies that have played on the team, and I played college ball with Michael Bourn. I kept an eye on how he was doing. With the state of the team and organization getting younger and trying to rebuild, for me to get the opportunity to come in and serve in whatever role I can -- on the field, in the clubhouse -- I'm fired up. It's the team I grew up watching, so you can't explain it."