A's make room for Suzuki
Maui native Kurt Suzuki becomes Oakland's starter
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Kurt Suzuki took the field for the eighth start of his major-league career yesterday when the A's faced the Rangers.
But it was a special one for the Maui native because it was his first as the club's No. 1 catcher.
Suzuki, anointed by general manager Billy Beane as Oakland's new starter after Kendall's departure in a deal for catcher Rob Bowen and a minor league pitcher, went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Texas closer Eric Gagne struck out Suzuki to seal a 4-1 win with a pair of runners on.
"I'm looking forward to (it)," Suzuki told MLB.com before the loss to the Rangers.
"Now it's all about getting comfortable. I can't say enough about what I learned from Jason. He's the best game-caller in baseball."
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CHICAGO » The Chicago Cubs acquired veteran catcher Jason Kendall in a trade with Oakland yesterday that they hope will prepare them for the postseason.
The A's, who also sent cash to Chicago, received catcher Rob Bowen and minor league left-hander Jerry Blevens. Kendall is making $13.4 million in the final year of a six-year, $60 million contract he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002.
The 33-year-old Kendall has been praised for his durability despite his inconsistencies on offense, but the A's like Baldwin product Kurt Suzuki and plan to make him their starter.
"This also gives Jason an opportunity to get into what he relished when he got over here, which was to be with a team that is right there knocking on the door," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "I think it's a place he'll thrive in and people there in Chicago will also identify with a guy like Jason."
Last month, the A's announced Mike Piazza would be a catcher again once he recovers from a shoulder injury -- so he could be Suzuki's backup while also doing some work as designated hitter. Kendall has caught at least 143 games in each of the past seven seasons and 150 or more in four of those years.
"To sort of not acknowledge Jason's impact on the pitching staff, it'd be foolish to say," Beane added.
"The pitchers will tell you, the coaching staff will tell you. But that's something that's learned anyways and that's part of becoming a major leaguer and part of the process for Kurt. It's something that has to happen at some point."
A's closer Huston Street said he was saddened to see Kendall go.
"He's a tough guy to lose. That was our rock right there," Street said. "Organizations have transitions. Unfortunately for a lot of us who trusted him, it's going to be a big transition."
The Cubs, meanwhile, also have Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill as catchers.
Bowen had been designated for assignment earlier Monday by the Cubs, who acquired him in a June 20 trade with San Diego for Michael Barrett. He had only two hits in 31 at-bats for the Cubs in 10 games.
Blevins is 3-2 with nine saves, splitting time between Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee this season. He was selected by the Cubs in the 17th round of the 2004 draft.
Kendall could join the Cubs for Tuesday night's game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field. Hendry said the Cubs aren't worried about Kendall's offensive dropoff this season.
"His second half career numbers are much better than his first. His on-base percentage is always high," Hendry said.
"I'm sure he is not quite the offensive force he was four or five years ago, but we felt in that situation behind the plate that he was a real good fit for us."