05/03/09 3:15 PM ET
Schuster throws first pitch at Rays game
High school phenom plays catch with, gets advice from Kazmir
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Earlier this week, the left-hander from Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla., was appearing on SportsCenter highlights, and dealing with obscure media requests, autograph signings and seemingly all the pressure a teenager could handle while trying to notch his fifth straight no-hitter.
Schuster gave up a third-inning double against Gaither High School in an eventual 9-4 loss on Tuesday, ending his high school career and capping a miraculous streak that gave him the Florida state high school record for consecutive no-nos.
He then had his senior prom on Saturday night, went to bed at 3 a.m. ET and had to make the 45-minute drive to St. Pete to be at Tropicana Field by 9 a.m. so he could throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the series finale between the Red Sox and Rays on Sunday.
But Schuster -- who said he was "running on fumes" -- had plenty to be amped up about.
"This is definitely a good way to wind things down," Schuster said.
Standing along the first-base line less than an hour before he'd take the mound, Schuster was given a special No. 10 jersey from the Rays -- his favorite team -- and got a surprise visit from former ace left-hander David Wells, who was making his broadcast debut for "Sunday MLB on TBS" and wanted Schuster to sign his ball.
Schuster, however, was as calm as you'd expect anybody who's as perfect as often as he is to be.
"I was standing here, and a guy from their locker room comes -- he's shaking -- and I'm like, 'What's wrong?' " Schuster recalled. "And he says, 'David Wells wants you to sign four balls, and he signed one for you.' And I'm like, 'OK, send them over.' So David Wells comes over, slaps me on the back and says, 'What's up, man?' and I'm like, 'Hey.' "
Then came the encounter he had been waiting for.
Schuster had a brief exchange with Scott Kazmir -- of whom he's been a fan since the Rays ace got to the big leagues -- and with that, the Rays' left-hander sprinted toward the clubhouse and came back with a lefty glove for Schuster so the two could play catch along the right-field line.
Kazmir was perhaps the perfect person to speak to Schuster. Not only because he's living the teenager's dream, but -- after throwing four straight no-hitters as a junior, and six overall, for Houston's Cypress Falls High -- he can relate better than anybody.
"It's just special looking at a kid, knowing exactly what he's going through," Kazmir said.
"He's making decisions, deciding if he's going to go to college or pro ball. So it's fun for him, and I'm glad it is. I made sure he's still having fun with all of this, and just a couple of tips, advice on how to go through all this and still have fun."
Schuster, the 79th-ranked prospect by Baseball America, is committed to the University of Florida. He has a cutoff point in mind for this June's First-Year Player Draft, which will determine whether he goes to college or the pros, but he doesn't want to make that public.
For what it's worth, Kazmir opted not to go to college, instead turning pro after being the 15th overall pick by the Mets in 2002.
"The first thing I asked was, 'Did you regret not going to college?' " Schuster said. "And he said, 'In some ways, yes, some ways no.'
"We were just playing catch, and he told me, 'Throw some offspeeds.' And he asked me how I throw my grips and things like that. No big deal, you know? We just talked baseball."
Because of his amazing surge, Schuster was a pretty big deal for a while.
And on Sunday he finally got a chance to play it back in his head.
"I didn't really get a chance to sit down and kind of contemplate where I am," Schuster said. "I was so busy with everything. So just finally sitting down and kind of realizing what I've done was really cool.
"I sit down, and I'm like, '[Wow,] I just threw four no-hitters in a row.' There's not many people who can say that."
Kazmir is one of the few.
And after their little exchange, the 25-year-old came away impressed with Schuster.
"He's got nasty movement," Kazmir said. "He's definitely not over the top. He's more of three-quarter, if not sidearm [pitcher]. He definitely has a lot of movement on his fastball and his breaking-ball pitches.
"Sky's the limit. It depends on how hard he works."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.