Suzuki with Minnesota Twins
|Atlanta Braves – No. 24|
October 4, 1983 |
|June 12, 2007, for the Oakland Athletics|
(through 2016 season)
|Runs batted in||519|
|Career highlights and awards|
Kurtis Kiyoshi "Kurt" Suzuki (Japanese: 鈴木 清 Hepburn: Suzuki Kiyoshi?, born October 4, 1983), is an American professional baseball catcher for the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics, and Minnesota Twins. Prior to playing professionally, Suzuki attended Cal State Fullerton and won the Johnny Bench Award and Brooks Wallace Award.
Suzuki attended California State University, Fullerton, where he played college baseball for the Cal State Fullerton Titans baseball team. Cal State Fullerton 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. 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. Kurt's nickname in college was Kurt Clutch.
Draft and minor leagues
Suzuki is regarded as a solid defender. 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.
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.
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 8th 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.
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.
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.
Return to Oakland
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.
Suzuki is known for his durability, good defense and all-around solid hitting. He has very quick reflexes behind the plate and even has some speed on the basepaths, rare for a catcher.
Suzuki is a fourth generation Japanese American. He and his wife Renee Suzuki (along with Orlando and Katie Cabrera) have helped out a former Titan catcher Jon Wilhite, who was severely injured in the car crash that killed Nick Adenhart. Suzuki has a daughter, named Hiroyuki Wakatsuki, whose birth caused him to take a brief paternity leave in April 2011.
- "Suzuki saluted with major award". USA Today. 2004-09-16. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- 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)
- "Boxscore: Oakland vs. Houston - June 12, 2007 | oaklandathletics.com: News". MLB.com. June 12, 2007. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Melhuse traded to Texas | oaklandathletics.com: News". MLB.com. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Major League Baseball Stats | oaklandathletics.com: Stats". MLB.com. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- Slusser, Susan (July 23, 2010). "Suzuki signed to four-year, $16.25 million contract – more details". SFgate.com. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
- Nationals Press Release (August 3, 2012). "Nationals acquire catcher Kurt Suzuki from Athletics". MLB.com.
- Wagner, James (2013-06-16). "Kurt Suzuki's production since Wilson Ramos' injury". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "MLB Ejection 032: John Tumpane (1; Kurt Suzuki)." Close Call Sports/Umpire Ejection Fantasy League. May 12, 2013.
- Slusser, Susan (August 22, 2013). "Kurt Suzuki rejoining A's; his comments plus trade details". SFGate.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- Bollinger, Rhett (December 2013). "Twins make deals with Suzuki, Pelfrey official". MLB.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- "Twins sign Pelfrey and Suzuki". MLB.com. December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- Bollinger, Rhett (July 31, 2014). "Twins sign Suzuki to two-year contract extension". MLB.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- Bowman, Mark (January 30, 2017). "Braves make Suzuki signing official". MLB.com. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- Caple, Jim (April 22, 2011). "The Ichiro-Matsui relationship". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- Bill Shaikin (2009-07-19). "Jon Wilhite doesn't take life for granted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Kurt Suzuki back after birth of daughter". ESPN.com. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
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