Suzuki debuts, excited to work with Nats pitchers

Suzuki debuts, excited to work with Nats pitchers

WASHINGTON -- Catcher Kurt Suzuki arrived at Nationals Park and wore uniform No. 24 in his debut on Saturday night.

Suzuki was acquired from the Athletics on Friday afternoon to improve the Nats' game-calling behind the plate. According to two team sources, the Nationals didn't like the way Jesus Flores would often change the game plan against opposing teams without permission.

When Suzuki found out about the trade, he wanted to get the next flight to Washington in order to join his new team the next day.

"I'm excited," Suzuki said. "First, I'd like to say I had a great time in Oakland. I had a lot of great memories there, but I'm ready for this and I couldn't be happier to be a Washington National. I'm just trying to fit in.

"That's the one thing I'm really looking forward to, is working with these pitchers, getting to know them. I had a great pitching staff in Oakland for a number of years. To come here, these guys are incredibly talented. I've been watching them on TV and watching these guys pitch, and I'm really excited."

Suzuki will be reunited with left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Together in Oakland, they won 38 games. Gonzalez said that Suzuki takes the pressure off the pitchers, and his work ethic is second to none. Suzuki is usually one of the last players to leave the park after a game.

"He is a guy that keeps you on your toes. He doesn't like to start the same pattern. He is consistently on top of stuff like that," Gonzalez said. "He brings a veteran presence to it. He has been around guys who had past experience, who had knowledge of the game in the right way. He is going to bring a lot to this game and especially to this team."

From an offense standpoint, Suzuki is having the worst season of his career, hitting .218 with a home run and 18 RBIs. He eventually lost his job to former Nationals catching prospect Derek Norris, who was traded to the A's for Gonzalez last winter.

Suzuki didn't have any excuses as to why he was having an off season at the plate.

"I'm here to get what's right, fix it and do whatever I can to contribute -- whether it's situational hitting or whatnot," Suzuki said. "Off to the side, do whatever I need to do to help the team win, but my main focus right now, my top priority, is to do my job with the pitching staff."

With the acquisition of Suzuki, the Nationals optioned catcher Sandy Leon to Triple-A Syracuse. Leon, 23, played in 10 games for Washington and was 7-for-28 (.250) with two RBIs. He also had the distinction of suffering a high ankle sprain in his first big league game and went on the disabled list after that.