Last night, Kurt Suzuki had his best night at the plate with the Nationals. He entered 3 for 21, all singles, with two walks since he came over from Oakland. And then he went 3 for 6 with four RBI in one game.
But what Suzuki is primarily concerned with is what happens behind the plate. Suzuki has now caught seven games for the Nationals, and each has been a learning experience for him. Suzuki’s mission when he arrived was to became an expert on the entire Nationals’ pitching staff as soon as he could. He’s now caught every starter and every reliever, and he is getting closer to having a handle on it.
“It’s coming,” Suzuki said yesterday. “It’s hard to do over one or two starts, but you kind of get a little more comfortable every time you get out there. It’s just kind of a work-in-progress type of thing. You try to get it as soon as possible. Right now, it’s going pretty good.”
Suzuki said it has been equally challenging to learn how an individual pitcher likes to pitch and how his stuff behaves. Across the board, he has learned one essential truth about the staff. “It’s a lot of power,” Suzuki said.
“I think he’s fit in really good,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s been great. He’s a quick study. I think he’s caught all the guys now. He’s adjusted really well, and everybody loves him.”
On his first day off, Suzuki went out to the bullpen and caught relievers during the game. The relievers, he said, are the hardest part. They do not pitch every day, and only throw 10 or 15 pitches at a time. After one or two starts, Suzuki feels good about calling games for a starter. It takes much longer to feel the same about the relievers.
“The only thing you can do is get out there and catch,” Suzuki said. “There’s no other way to do it. The more you get out there behind the plate, the more comfortable you’ll be. You just kind of got to get up there. Things will kind of come to your head. You kind of get comfortable.”
Broadly, Suzuki has quickly taken to playing for the Nationals. His genial personality fits in well with the clubhouse, and he has blended in seamlessly.
“I love it,” Suzuki said. “It’s a great atmosphere. It’s a great organization to be in, it feels like. Guys are great. It’s a fun clubhouse – they have a lot of fun here. It doesn’t hurt to have the best record in baseball, too.”
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