Programming note: Rays-A’s coverage kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m.with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
OAKLAND – Kurt Suzuki arrived at the Coliseum on Friday and found lots of familiar faces, from security personnel to the clubhouse workers that he always loved joking around with during his first stint with the A’s.
Re-acquired from the Washington Nationals last Friday to boost Oakland’s catching depth, Suzuki has fit right back in with his former club, with which he broke into the majors in 2007. Most importantly for the A’s, he says it’s just like old times with the pitching staff too.
As he prepared for his first home game Friday since rejoining the A’s, Suzuki said there was very little brushing up he had to do with Oakland’s pitchers since he had caught so many of them before he was traded to Washington last August.
“You refresh a little bit -- maybe a day,” Suzuki said. “You don’t lose it that fast. Obviously there are guys like Sonny (Gray), who I only caught a couple times. Not in a big league situation, spring training more so. But just being able to catch him before, knowing what he throws, what kind of arm he has, I think it makes everything that much easier.”
The Baltimore Orioles got to Gray for six runs Sunday with Suzuki behind the plate. But Suzuki and second-year pitcher Jarrod Parker were locked in a day earlier.
In Suzuki’s first start for the A’s, Parker threw eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 victory over the Orioles. The two are paired up again Friday night as Parker takes the ball in the opener of a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“It’s been pretty seamless,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of using Suzuki. “He’s a good pickup for us in that when you bring in another catcher, there’s always a transition period you have to go through. You bring a guy back like him, it’s really not the case. … It feels like he never left.”
There was one difference when Suzuki entered the home clubhouse Friday. He was assigned a new locker from equipment manager Steve Vucinich, down the row from where he used to be.
“I don’t care,” Suzuki said. “Vuc just put me at any locker. It’s probably the worst one.”
He was smiling, knowing full well that wasn’t the case. Suzuki is stationed in a far corner of clubhouse that typically gets assigned to one of the team’s longest tenured players. It was Eric Chavez’s locker for several seasons.
As for his first game back in front of the Coliseum crowd, Suzuki said he was looking forward to it.
“I think it’s gonna be fun,” Suzuki said. “I’m definitely glad to be back.”