Schneider closes them out for Sox |

Schneider closes them out for Sox

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

Like everybody else in the Reno Silver Sox clubhouse, right-handed closer Scott Schneider wants another chance in affiliated baseball.

“I firmly believe I’m a big league caliber pitcher,” said the Reno closer during Reno’s last homestand. “I know my stuff is that good; my command is that good.

“I love closing. It’s what makes me happy. That’s where my heart is. If I could do any job on the staff, closing would be it.”

If Schneider sounds cocky, well he’s not. He’s extremely confident, however, and when you close games you have to be. You can’t be fearful. You have to be fearless. You have to at least act like you are going to shut people down even when you know you don’t have your best stuff.

Schneider’s numbers in Reno have been impressive to say the least. He has struck out 43 in 31 innings, compiling a 2-4 record with a 2.87 ERA and a league-leading 16 saves. He’s allowed only 23 hits and opponents are hitting a paltry .202 against him.

That kind of stuff is what enabled Schneider to have a pretty solid stint in the Anaheim Angels’ organization. He went all the way up to Triple-A before being released at the end of the 2005 season.

“I had really good numbers until last year,” the 28-year-old Schneider said. “Unfortunately, the Angels just ran out of patience with me.

“I had some personal stuff happen in 2005 (Salt Lake), and I left the team for a short time. I was pitching OK at the time. After I came back, I couldn’t get anybody out. My ERA went from 4.50 when I left to 8.50 at the end of the season. They thought highly enough to keep me around the rest of the year, which surprised me a bit. I couldn’t get anybody out in the second half.”

The 6-foot-4 right-hander also said he lost some velocity, and was throwing only 85-86 most of the time during the second half of the 2005 season, which isn’t good from the right side. Affiliated baseball wants right-handed pitchers, especially relievers, to be throwing around 90.

After his release, Schneider spent the off-season working out, and was planning on playing in Mexico.

“Being in Mexico, I knew that might be too hard,” said Schneider, who is married and has one child. “When I came back from Mexico, I called Rafael (Melchione, Reno’s hitting coach), and he invited me to spring training. He had happened to watch me throw one time and liked what he saw.”

And, Schneider, who throws around 90 miles-per-hour, was quickly installed as the Silver Sox’s closer. He’s mostly been a middle reliever or set-up man until this year. He started less than 10 games total in the minors.

“He’s one reason why we’re in the playoffs,” Reno manager Les Lancaster said. “He’s got a very live arm, and he can throw everyday. He’s strong and has a competitive nature.

“He doesn’t have three pitches. That’s why he’s in the bullpen. He’s had a lot of success there in his career. Hopefully we can get him out of here and into an organization at the end of the year. Right now, most organizations don’t sign pitchers this late in the year. Nobody has called us about Scott. When the season ends, teams will start calling around the league.”

Schneider said he hasn’t gotten too wrapped up in moving on – yet. That will come after Reno’s season is over.

“I have an agent that takes care of that stuff,” Schneider said. “They call him, and he’ll want to discuss stuff with some team. I tell him not to tell me about what teams.

“I don’t worry about that stuff. If some team called and said they wanted to sign me right now, I would obviously take it. Right now, all I’m focusing on is getting people out here. We have a great opportunity to win a ring. I would love to win a ring I’ve never done that before.”

Save for a two-week stretch in late June and early July, Schneider has been rock solid. In that one bad stretch, he allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings. His ERA went from the low 1’s to over 3 in a matter of days. That’s the life of a short reliever. One bad outing can send an ERA skyrocketing into outer space.

“I never lost my confidence.. really,” Schneider said. “I had pitched a lot of days in a row. I went four days in a row, off two days in a row and then I’d work a couple of days in a row. Fatigue played a part in it, mentally and physically.

“I knew I would get out of it; that I could get people out. The hits I gave up, I would make just one bad pitch. I tried to do too much. I’m a fastball guy. It’s no secret I’m going to throw the fastball. Every pitcher wants to hit the perfect spot instead of hitting a good spot, and that’s what happened to me. I tried to be too fine.”

But when you throw as many days as Schneider was doing, you lose some pop off your best pitch, and hitters will tee off on you.

Ever since mid-July, however, Schneider has been like the Schneider of old, challenging hitters and setting them down with regularity.

That’s critical, because the Silver Sox finish the regular season with seven straight games against Chico. Schneider and fellow reliever Nate Sevier, the best set-up man in the GBL, will have to be at their best.