Talking Baseball with Kurt Suzuki

August 28, 2007

Do you identify at all with the wave of players like Ichiro and Daisuke, or do you see yourself as very much separate from that?
Absolutely. I was born and raised in Hawaii, so, it’s totally two different things. I obviously was raised an American, so I’m not trying to be anything those guys are trying to be; they were born and raised in Japan and came from Japan. It’s a lot different.

Take me back to a month ago, when Jason Kendall was playing day in and day out, and what you had an opportunity to talk about with him while he was here.
Just kind of the overall game; I tried to pick his brain as much as I could about game calling and stuff like that, just seeing how he goes about his business and how he handles certain situations.

I’ve said to a lot of people, if I talked about what I learned from Jason, I’d be talking all day. The information I got from him was so helpful, to be constantly improving my skills.

When you heard that he would be leaving, and you got a vote of confidence from the organization that you’d be the starting catcher, what were your thoughts?
I was excited. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity my whole life. They obviously had confidence in me, to provide this opportunity I’ve just got to take it and run with it, do as best I can and keep trying to get better and improve my all-around game.

What’s been the most challenging about learning on the fly as a big-league catcher?
Well, you’ve got to learn the pitching staff, you’ve got to learn each pitcher, you’ve got to learn the hitters, you’ve got to learn pretty much the whole Major Leagues, and to go along with that, you’ve got to hit!

But the main thing for me now is my defense, working on my skills behind the plate, learning the pitching staff, and just learning the overall tempo of the game. I know offense will come, that’s not important to me right now. Really getting a good rapport with the pitchers is right now the most important thing.

When you and Shane Komine appeared together in a game (July 17), it was the first time there was a Hawaiian-born pitcher-catcher battery in the majors. Is that something you were aware of at the time?
Yeah, definitely, I was aware of it. It was exciting. We’d been talking about it for a couple of years now. So when it happened, it was cool.

Any goals for you specifically, for the rest of the season and beyond?
Just to play it out, try and stay healthy, and really improve every part of my game leading into next year, to get myself to where I know I’m ready to go.

It’s coming. The more I play, the more comfortable I get and the more I learn. The last month and a half (of the season) is really important to improve on my skills and get myself ready.

You still get a chance to do any surfing?
No, not now! Maybe in the off-season.

Well, thanks again, and continued good luck to you.
Thank you.