The Oakland A's are 9-11 when Kurt Suzuki starts at catcher. CLICK FOR LARGE
Suzuki staying busy
"Kurt Klutch" catching up after whirlwind month
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Baldwin product Kurt Suzuki has not had a lot of time to think about his batting average since joining the Oakland Athletics last month.
But it is slowly becoming safe to take a peek.
Suzuki, 23, raised his batting average from .185 to .242 in his last three games.
Suzuki had the day off yesterday after playing four straight games.
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The pace of Kurt Suzuki's daily life has picked up some since mid-July.
Since Suzuki went from being an apprentice behind the plate to the Oakland A's starting catcher, his waking hours are largely accounted for from breakfast to bedtime.
For a typical home night game, the Baldwin graduate's regimen usually starts when he arrives at McAfee Coliseum at about 1 p.m. He'll hole up in the team's video room studying the A's starting pitcher that night and the opposing hitters, then meet with the staff and coaches to devise a plan of attack.
After batting practice, warm-ups and a night of trying to outwit another lineup, his day doesn't end until he squeezes in a late-night workout of weightlifting or cardio work.
The plan doesn't leave much time for savoring life in the big leagues.
"I'm getting into a routine, just getting myself ready to play every day," Suzuki said during one of his few spare moments this week.
"It's a grind and it's a lot of information -- that's why it's important to get into a routine.
"(Playing in the majors has) been awesome, but I haven't really sat down and thought about it much. I'll probably do that after the season."
Suzuki closed a rough month for the A's by going 2-for-3 and driving in a season-high three runs in a 7-3 win over Detroit on Tuesday as Oakland snapped a four-game losing streak. The team went 9-18 in July, and began August 13 games behind AL West-leading Los Angeles.
Suzuki -- one of two Maui products in the majors, along with Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino (St. Anthony) -- made a steady ascent through the A's system after being drafted in the second round in 2004 out of Cal State Fullerton. He began this season with Triple-A Sacramento, touted as Oakland's catcher of the future.
The future arrived in early June with the first of two trades that cleared his path to a starting job.
Kurt Suzuki met with A's pitcher Joe Blanton and pitching coach Curt Young on the mound. CLICK FOR LARGE
First, the A's sent backup catcher Adam Melhuse to Texas on June 10 and called Suzuki up from Sacramento. After a few pinch-hit appearances and spot starts while learning the trade behind veteran Jason Kendall, Suzuki was thrust into the everyday lineup when Kendall was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 16.
"I was really excited and ready for the opportunity," said Suzuki, a 2001 All-State selection as a Baldwin senior. "It's a big responsibility, but it's something I wanted to do and it's what I worked for all year."
Though Kendall's batting average has hovered just north of .200 most of the season, his rapport with an Oakland staff, led by All-Star Game starter Dan Haren, and savvy behind the plate were highly valued by the A's pitchers.
As a rookie, those are just a couple of the aspects Suzuki has had to develop on the fly.
"It's progressing nicely," he said of the process of meshing with the Oakland staff. "The more I get back there the more comfortable I'll be. ... It's an everyday thing just learning how they like to pitch and how they pitch in situations.
"(The pitchers) understand the situation I'm in. I'm not going to come in and be Jason Kendall. He's got 12 years and I've got maybe 12 games. I'm just going to do everything I can to better myself every day and to help this team."
A day after the Kendall trade, Suzuki was part of a milestone for Hawaii baseball when Kalani graduate Shane Komine took the mound in the eighth inning of a loss to Texas, making the duo the first all-Hawaii battery in major league history.
After throwing 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief that night, Komine was optioned back to Sacramento later that week when Mike Piazza was activated off the DL.
"You get out there and you're just trying to win the game and you don't really think about stuff like that or you'll get in trouble," Suzuki said. "It's cool. We talked about it in Sacramento and it's great that it happened."
As he concentrates on getting comfortable behind the plate, Suzuki isn't overly concerned with what he does in the batter's box early in his career. He began his major league career by hitting .385 with two homers in his first five games. He didn't homer in July and his average briefly dipped below .200 before he went 2-for-3 with three runs scored in a 14-10 loss at Seattle on Sunday.