Schneider learning to take charge

Schneider learning to take charge

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Rare is the catcher who enjoys surprises. The good ones are in control and like it that way. Even with a staff that will include Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez and, sooner or later, Orlando Hernandez, Brian Schneider intends to be in charge. And to achieve that status, he defers to his pitchers.

For now.

It was that way Monday, when Schneider served as Santana's catcher for the first time. As the man in charge, he gave the Mets ace his orders: Defy me. Not in so many words, perhaps, but before Santana began his four-inning workday against the Red Sox, Schneider told him, "Shake me off as much as you can."

It is Schneider's considered opinion that the best way to learn the tendencies and preferences of his new pitchers is to let them run the game. The more veteran starters -- Santana, Martinez and El Duque -- are going to be ultimately responsible for choice of pitches anyway. So, in the way Schneider suggested, he'll come to understand how they approach some hitters and circumstances and once the season begins and he is putting down fingers to alert the position players and to make sure he and he pitcher are in agreement, there will be more agreement.

"I never had a catcher do that," Santana said. "But it worked."

Santana faced 15 batters on four scoreless innings against the Sox and, by Schneider's estimation, shook off eight pitches.

"I think that's a good sign," the catcher said. "We were on the same page a lot right now. He throws three pitches, but they're quality pitches. I think we could have a [regular-season] game now and be OK together."

Santana's workday was followed by two scoreless innings by Matt Wise and one each by Pedro Feliciano and Willie Collazo. Boston's run scored in the ninth, the one the created the 1-1 tie, came against Brian Stokes.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.