Open Thread: Spring Training Game 1 Nationals at Marlins.

Newark Star-Ledger baseball writer Jeremy Cothran had a feature article on the front page of the Sports section today on former Nationals' catcher Brian Schneider entitled, "Catching up in a hurry", which examines how the New York Mets' new catcher is adjusting to a pitching staff that he's only known as opponents until earlier this winter when Schneider was traded, along with outfielder Ryan Church, to the Mets for their former top prospect, outfielder Lastings Milledge.

Pedro Martinez is one of the Mets' pitchers quoted in the article, and he quickly endears himself to catchers everywhere, telling Mr. Cothran that as far as he's concerned:

"It's a matter of him(Schneider) understanding what my pitches do....If he can catch them, then I can place them."

I'm sure Schneider can catch most of them, Pedro...Mr. Cothran then expresses a possible reason for concern about Schneider's time in DC, as he writes that:

"...Schneider dealt with few elite-level pitchers during his time with the Nationals organization. Most of his experiences went into developing the young, inconsistent arms that have filtered in and out of Washington, where he drew rave reviews for his efforts."

Something tells me that in spite of the reservations those in the Mets' organization and those who write about the Mets are expressing... Schneider should be able to handle "elite-level" arms like those of Oliver Perez (45-53, 4.43 ERA in 5 seasons), John Maine (23-19, 4.19 ERA in four seasons) and Mike Pelfrey (5-9, 5.55 ERA in two seasons)...I won't try to argue that Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana are anything but elite-level...but who else? El Duque? Armas?? What?...

Schneider? Well he's happy to be in NY according to Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Ben Volin, who writes in his article, "Schneider happy about move", that:

"As a member of the Expos/Nationals organization for 13 seasons, Brian Schneider used Octobers to travel or play golf in Palm Beach Gardens...

...BUT...now that Schneider is a Met...Schneider will be planning for the Playoffs in October instead of planning a vacation...Get it?...Mr. Volin continues insulting the same Nationals who swept the Mets out of the playoffs late last season, as he then writes:

"...And instead of catching relative no-names such as Jon Rauch and Jay Bergmann, he'll now be the receiver for some of the best pitchers in the game, such as Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez and Billy Wagner."

Thanks, Schneider. For all your great play in DC, especially the defense, and thank you...For making it that much easier to start hating...

MEANWHILE...

Down in Viera, Florida at the Nationals' Spring home, MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Notes: Flores arrives in camp", reported on the arrival of the Nationals' sophomore backstop Jesus Flores, who reported to camp Sunday, a little more than a week after the rest of Washington's pitchers and catchers started camp, due to visa issues that held Flores back home in Venezuela...

...and Bill Ladson's article today at washington.nationals.mlb.com, entitled, "Notes: Hill dominates in batting practice", notes that Paul Lo Duca, considered the Nationals' starting catcher, should be ready to play by Opening Day, after undergoing surgery on his injured knee in late January. Mr. Ladson writes:

"Paul Lo Duca's left knee continues to get better, and he hopes to start taking batting practice by Thursday or Friday and having bullpen sessions by Monday."

Still no word on who will be behind the plate for tonight's Spring opener against the Marlins, but at the end of Washington Post baseball writer Barry Svrluga's eye-opening article about Nationals' shortstop Felipe Lopez entitled, "López Begins His Climb From Last Year's Depths", (which is a must-read), Mr. Svrluga writes that after Matt Chico starts tomorrows game for the Nationals:

"Right-hander Garrett Mock will follow Chico on Wednesday. Thursday, right-hander Jason Bergmann will face Georgetown, with newly acquired Tyler Clippard scheduled to pitch Friday against Florida in Viera and right-hander John Patterson set for Saturday against Baltimore..."

...and Bill Ladson's article, "Notes: Hill dominates in batting practice", reports further on the Nationals' pitching plans for tonight's game, with Mr. Ladson writing:

"Left-hander Matt Chico will get the start for Washington, while pitchers Garrett Mock, Rob Bell, Joel Hanrahan, Brian Sanches and Chris Schroder will pitch in relief."

Tomorrow 7:00 pm eastern...the Washington Nationals start playing baseball...

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