Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki
Kurt Suzuki (32640293807) (cropped).jpg
Suzuki with Washington Nationals in 2019
Washington Nationals – No. 28
Catcher
Born: (1983-10-04) October 4, 1983 (age 35)
Wailuku, Hawaii
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
June 12, 2007, for the Oakland Athletics
MLB statistics
(through June 20, 2019)
Batting average.259
Home runs122
Runs batted in651
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Kurtis Kiyoshi Suzuki (Japanese: 鈴木 清, Hepburn: Suzuki Kiyoshi, born October 4, 1983), is an American professional baseball catcher for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves. Prior to playing professionally, Suzuki attended Cal State Fullerton and won the Johnny Bench Award and Brooks Wallace Award.

Early life[edit]

Suzuki was born to Warren and Kathleen Suzuki in Wailuku, Hawaii and attended Henry Perrine Baldwin High School from which he graduated in 2001.[1][2] Suzuki was mentored as a youth by Hawaiian MLB scout Walter Isamu Komatsubara.[3] He managed a .328 batting average as a senior at Baldwin.[2]

College career[edit]

Suzuki attended California State University, Fullerton, where he played college baseball for the Cal State Fullerton Titans baseball team. Cal State Fullerton appeared in the 2003 College World Series[2] and captured the 2004 College World Series championship, thanks to Suzuki's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving the Titans a 3-2 win over the Texas Longhorns.

That same year, he won the Johnny Bench Award as the country's top collegiate catcher.[4] He was also selected All-American by two publications, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He was also the recipient of the first ever Brooks Wallace Award.[5]

Professional career[edit]

Draft and minor leagues[edit]

The Athletics drafted Suzuki in the second round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft and assigned him to the Single-A Vancouver Canadians, where he batted .297 and committed just one error in 46 games.

His first full season of professional baseball came in 2005, with another Single-A team, the Stockton Ports. Playing in 114 games, Suzuki put up a .277 average, 12 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .440 slugging percentage.

Moving up to the Double-A Midland RockHounds in 2006, Suzuki batted .285 with a .392 OBP.[citation needed] He began the 2007 season with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.

Oakland Athletics[edit]

Suzuki joined the major league club on June 9, 2007 after rarely used catcher Adam Melhuse was traded to the Texas Rangers and made his debut three days later as a pinch hitter in a game against the Houston Astros.[6][7]

He served as backup to veteran Jason Kendall until Kendall was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 16, making Suzuki the Athletics everyday catcher. On July 17, 2007, pitcher Shane Komine got into a game in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers with Suzuki doing the catching. This marked the first time in major league baseball history that there was a battery where both players were from Hawaii.

On September 10, 2007, Suzuki hit his first career grand slam in the second inning against the Seattle Mariners.

For the 2008 season, Suzuki was the starting catcher while Rob Bowen served as back-up. In the first 20 regular season games, Suzuki started 18. He ended the season with a .279 batting average in 148 games.[8]

During the 2009 season, Suzuki had a career high 15 home runs, and 88 RBIs, and batted .274 in 147 games. Suzuki led the A's in RBIs, and became only the second catcher in the franchise's history to do so. He also led the team in hits (156), doubles (37), and total bases (240) and was second in home runs and runs scored behind teammate Jack Cust.

On July 23, 2010, Suzuki signed a four-year extension with the Oakland Athletics, estimated to be worth $16.25 million.[9] At the end of the 2010 season, Suzuki ended with a .242 average with 13 home runs and 71 RBI's. The following season, he hit .237 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI.

Washington Nationals[edit]

On August 3, 2012, Suzuki was traded to the Washington Nationals for minor league catcher David Freitas.[10]

During the 2013 season, Suzuki platooned with Wilson Ramos.[11] On May 12, 2013, Suzuki was ejected for the first time in his MLB career by umpire John Tumpane for arguing a strike three call.[12]

Suzuki with the Twins in 2015

Return to Oakland[edit]

On August 22, 2013, Suzuki was traded back to the Oakland Athletics for minor leaguer Dakota Bacus.[13]

Minnesota Twins[edit]

Suzuki signed with the Minnesota Twins on December 23, 2013.[14][15]

Suzuki was named to the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, finishing up the game with his Twins battery-mate, Glen Perkins. He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the team on July 31, 2014.[16] In his first season with Minnesota, he hit a career high .288 with 3 home runs and 61 RBI's. The following season he hit .240 with 5 home runs and 50 RBI's. In 2016, he hit .258 with 8 home runs but had his season shortened due to injury.

Atlanta Braves[edit]

On January 30, 2017, Suzuki signed a one-year contract for $1.5 million with the Atlanta Braves.[17] He set a career high in home runs that season, hitting 19 in 276 at-bats while platooning with Tyler Flowers.[18] [19] On September 23, 2017, Suzuki and the Braves agreed to a one-year extension worth $3.5 million.[20]

Return to Washington[edit]

On November 20, 2018, the Washington Nationals officially announced that they had signed Suzuki to a two-year contract worth $10 million. [21]

Personal life[edit]

Suzuki is a fourth generation Japanese American.[22] He was raised in Maui and graduated from Baldwin High School.[23]

Suzuki married his wife Renee Marie Suzuki (née Vignery) in January 2007. They met at Fullerton where she was a fellow Titan who played volleyball. They have three children, daughter Malia Grace Suzuki, born on April 28, 2011, and sons Kai Noah and Elijah, born on November 4, 2013 and July 12, 2016.[24] Suzuki took a brief paternity leave after his daughter's birth in 2011.[25]

Philanthropy[edit]

In 2012, Suzuki and his wife Renee founded the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation, a charitable non-profit dedicated to supporting the scientific research of chronic illnesses and kidney diseases. He and his wife (along with Orlando and Katie Cabrera) have also helped out a former Titan catcher Jon Wilhite, who was severely injured in the car crash that killed Nick Adenhart.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ DeMello, Rob (July 7, 2014). "Hawaii's Kurt Suzuki named a Major League All Star for the first time in his career". KHON. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Campany, Jerry (June 17, 2003). "Baldwin alumnus Suzuki living his dream at CWS". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  3. ^ Lewis, Ferd (July 29, 2010). "'Mr. Komatsubara' would have loved to see Suzuki get his due". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Suzuki saluted with major award". USA Today. September 16, 2004. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  5. ^ Sherrington, Kevin (October 24, 2004). "Memories get refreshed: New college award honors shortstop no one forgot". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved April 2, 2013.(subscription required)
  6. ^ "Boxscore: Oakland vs. Houston - June 12, 2007 | oaklandathletics.com: News". MLB.com. June 12, 2007. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  7. ^ "Melhuse traded to Texas | oaklandathletics.com: News". MLB.com. June 19, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  8. ^ "Major League Baseball Stats | oaklandathletics.com: Stats". MLB.com. June 19, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  9. ^ Slusser, Susan (July 23, 2010). "Suzuki signed to four-year, $16.25 million contract – more details". SFgate.com. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  10. ^ Nationals Press Release (August 3, 2012). "Nationals acquire catcher Kurt Suzuki from Athletics". MLB.com.
  11. ^ Wagner, James (June 16, 2013). "Kurt Suzuki's production since Wilson Ramos' injury". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  12. ^ "MLB Ejection 032: John Tumpane (1; Kurt Suzuki)." Close Call Sports/Umpire Ejection Fantasy League. May 12, 2013.
  13. ^ Slusser, Susan (August 22, 2013). "Kurt Suzuki rejoining A's; his comments plus trade details". SFGate.com. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  14. ^ Bollinger, Rhett (December 2013). "Twins make deals with Suzuki, Pelfrey official". MLB.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  15. ^ "Twins sign Pelfrey and Suzuki". MLB.com. December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  16. ^ Bollinger, Rhett (July 31, 2014). "Twins sign Suzuki to two-year contract extension". MLB.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  17. ^ Bowman, Mark (January 30, 2017). "Braves make Suzuki signing official". MLB.com. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  18. ^ Bowman, Mark (September 21, 2017). "Surprising Suzuki sets career high in homers". MLB.com. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  19. ^ "Kurt Suzuki". ESPN. November 5, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Bowman, Mark (September 23, 2017). "Braves, Suzuki agree to 1-year contract". MLB.com. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "Suzuki returns to Nationals on 2-year deal". MLB.com.
  22. ^ Caple, Jim (April 22, 2011). "The Ichiro-Matsui relationship". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  23. ^ "From Maui to the Majors | News, Sports, Jobs - Maui News". www.mauinews.com. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  24. ^ http://www.mauinews.com/news/local-news/2017/05/dukes-family-spreading-aloha-across-u-s/
  25. ^ "Kurt Suzuki back after birth of daughter". ESPN.com. April 29, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  26. ^ Bill Shaikin (July 19, 2009). "Jon Wilhite doesn't take life for granted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2013.

External links[edit]