PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Brian Schneider is unlikely to play again before Sunday, manager Jerry Manuel said Thursday, even though the condition of his right knee has improved significantly.

Indeed, the Mets catcher says he could play Saturday, or even Friday, if the pain and stiffness in the knee diminishes by Friday morning as much as it did from Wednesday to Thursday.

Suffice it to say Schneider's knee no longer is an issue in camp. It was hardly a 24-hour worry. Schneider arrived in camp Wednesday morning, limping and unable to play. The knee was examined late Wednesday, and the preliminary diagnosis the Mets gave him was supported by the off-premises MRI: a strain of the posterior capsule of the right knee and a mild strain of a muscle in the calf.

Schneider began to feel stiffness and pain in the back of his knee late Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, the pain had increased. Schneider began anti-inflammatory treatment on Wednesday night. The backstop said the cause of the malady was unclear.

"I didn't do anything to it," Schneider said. "It just started to hurt."