- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Washington Nationals catcher Brian Schneider spoke to the media yesterday for the first time since Sunday, when he stormed out of the clubhouse in a profanity-laced tirade after a 3-1 loss to the New York Mets.

Schneider did so on one condition — that the incident wouldn’t be discussed.

“I don’t want to talk about it, I really don’t,” he said. “That was the other day. I don’t want any other distractions. I want to focus on the [Atlanta] Braves and be here with my teammates and that’s it.”

It’s been a frustrating season for Schneider. He is hitting .236 with three home runs and 37 RBI. Defensively, Schneider has thrown out just 23 percent (13-for-57) of would-be base stealers.

“Obviously, I wish it could be better,” Schneider said. “No one wants to have a down season, but it’s part of life, it’s part of baseball.”

He led NL catchers by throwing out 38 percent of would-be base stealers in 2005 and topped the majors in that category the previous two seasons.

In Sunday’s game, Mets third baseman David Wright stole second and then took third when Schneider’s throw sailed into center field. Earlier in the game, Schneider threw another ball into center field on a failed hit-and-run play.

Those throws prompted a reporter to ask Schneider whether his shoulder felt OK.

Schneider, who battled right shoulder problems last season, took offense to the question and stormed out of the clubhouse cursing, even making reference to this season’s poor caught-stealing percentage.

Draft pick signs

The Nationals signed fourth-round draft pick Glenn Gibson yesterday. With the signing, the Nationals have agreed to terms with six of their top eight picks from the June draft.

Gibson, a left-handed pitcher from Center Moriches High School (N.Y.), was selected with the 121st overall pick. He will report to the Gulf Coast (Rookie) League Nationals today.

Gibson, the son of former major league pitcher Paul Gibson, won the Yastrzemski Award as the top high school player in Suffolk County, Long Island, where he was 8-1 with a 0.29 ERA. He threw two no-hitters and allowed two earned runs, 11 hits and 11 walks and struck out 145 batters in 61 innings.

Fick update

Catcher/first baseman Robert Fick had his injured left rib evaluated by the team’s medical staff yesterday.

Fick said he has had no problems throwing the ball and plans to swing off a tee today.

His timetable for a return?

“I’m hoping … maybe real soon, but my real goal is like September 1 to try and be ready for the last month, but it could be a lot sooner than that,” Fick said.

Fick, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 1, suffered a left rib cartilage separation diving back to first base in the Nationals’ 10-7 win over the San Francisco Giants on July 31.

In 37 games, Fick is hitting .244 with two home runs, two doubles and six RBI in 82 at-bats. The Nationals are 9-3 when he starts at catcher.

“I want to be on the team next year,” Fick said. “I’ve got to show them what I can do because I haven’t had much of a chance this year. Being as I started the year hurt, I don’t want to finish the year hurt.”

Extra bases

National team manager Davey Johnson announced his 25-player roster yesterday for the Olympic qualifying tournament from Aug. 25 to Sept. 5 in Havana and no Washington Nationals players were named to the roster. But Johnson, who was hired as special consultant to general manager Jim Bowden on June 7 on an interim basis, did select Class AAA New Orleans hitting coach Rick Eckstein as his bench coach for the 12-team tournament. The top-two finishers advance to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Team USA did not qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics. … Second baseman Jose Vidro went 1-for-2 last night on a rehab assignment with the Class AA Harrisburg Senators.

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