Tom Powers with a great story about Twins catcher, Kurt Suzuki, who is turning out to be almost as good a FA signing as Phil Hughes. And as Powers tells it, perhaps he is the key behind the Twins pitching resurgence since May 1 http://www.twincitie...twins-pitching:
[QUOTE][COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia] [Suzuki's hitting this season has been exceptional]...but his main function, his primary purpose, as he sees it, is running the game from behind the plate.
[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia]And if there's one thing that Twins pitchers have learned this season it's that you don't shake off Kurt Suzuki.[/FONT][/COLOR]
"When they do, he gets really irritated and lets them hear about it in the dugout," manager Ron Gardenhire said." And then we hear about it. We have a little fun with that. He has a good plan going into it. He leads the meetings and we talk over the lineup with each pitcher. He knows what we're supposed to do.''[/FONT][/COLOR][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia]I don't even worry about hitting." Suzuki said. "Maybe that's a good thing, right? When we put up zeroes, I feel better at the plate for some reason. We put up zeroes and I feel more confident and I just feel better about myself."
[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia]Starter Phil Hughes didn't have much in the series finale. Suzuki knew it early. [/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia]"Well, that's the fun part of the job," Suzuki said. "They have to bear down and try to mix things up. You pick your spots for certain type pitches."[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia]He helped get Hughes through five innings and earn a victory.[/FONT][/COLOR]
"Since day one in spring training, he's been eager to catch bullpens and to learn what we like to do and get to know the staff," Hughes said. "His scouting reports are meticulous and he reads swings with the best of them and knows exactly what guys are sitting on and looking for."[/FONT][/COLOR]
And Hughes rarely shakes off a sign. He knows better. [/FONT][/COLOR][/QUOTE]
Besides his game-calling, pitch-blocking skills and leadership- reasons enough for me to support the Twins bringing him in this year- because of how he's been mostly used over the past few years, I was unaware of Zuke's Iron Man nature -and how critical it is to know you've got a guy at the toughest everyday position that fully embraces the concept of playing everyday, no matter what. If anyone watched all four games in the White Sox series, you gained full witness to the fact that the pounding that Suzuki took behind the plate was not for the faint of heart. What Powers relays in the box quote below were just two of the "highlights" of the wince-worthy-wounds that Suzuki endured this weekend:
[QUOTE] "Let's go!"
[That was Kurt's reaction shortly after he] [COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia]caught the backlash of an Alexei Ramirez swing right on the elbow Sunday and doubled over in pain. After a few seconds, he stood up, flexed his arm once or twice, walked around for a few seconds and then went back and squatted behind the plate.[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#333333][FONT=Georgia]
The day before, an inside pitch ricocheted off of batter Gordon Beckham and nailed Suzuki in the collarbone. He tentatively checked to make sure nothing had chipped off. Then he rubbed it -- hard -- spat in the dirt and announced he was ready to resume play.[/FONT][/COLOR]
"Ahh, it's part of the job," he said after Sunday's 6-5 victory over Chicago. "It's a rough part of the gig, but it is what it is and you just have to keep going. I'm fine. A few little dings here and there. They go away."[/FONT][/COLOR]
Evidently, the concept of "day games off after night games" is one that Scrap Iron is either unfamiliar with, or hardily disdains.
Perhaps Suzuki has only temporarily found the fountain of youth. But it's interesting to note, he had his best years at the plate in 2008 and 2009 when he was playing full-time and 147-148 games. With the demotion of Josmil Pinto, Suzuki has lately been on pace to catch close to 130 games. Powers ends his column with an endorsement of extending Suzuki for a year or two, and I'm inclined to agree, even if he only (more than likely) hits at his career averages. And even if he can't throw out many base stealers. After reading this article, it sounds like Twins pitchers would also endorse this move in retaining the human suggestion box.
Edited by jokin, 23 June 2014 - 08:54 AM.