Suzuki finds his stroke in Nationals lineup

Suzuki finds his stroke in Nationals lineup
September 11, 2012, 10:30 pm
Share This Post

NEW YORK -- Davey Johnson has been a fan of Kurt Suzuki's offensive prowess since he first managed the catcher during a 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament in Cuba. So the Nationals skipper isn't surprised at all by what he's seen from Suzuki over the last two weeks.

"He's swinging the bat like he did there," Johnson said. "He's short to the ball, and he's got some pop. And everybody knows he's a great defender. So he just fits right in. Everybody in the lineup is a threat right now."

Indeed, Suzuki's recent surge at the plate completes the Nationals' lineup and gives Johnson a power threat in every starting spot. Collectively, his club has hit 33 homers over its last 13 games (entering tonight's contest against the Mets) and Suzuki has been a major contributor.

After struggling to find his swing in the immediate aftermath of his Aug. 3 trade from Oakland -- he hit .192 with a paltry .476 OPS in his first 14 games with the Nationals -- Suzuki has hit .333 with four homers and a 1.089 OPS over his last 12 games.

The 28-year-old catcher isn't trying to analyze too much what's made this reversal of fortune possible.

"It's getting a good pitch to hit and trying to put a good swing on it and trying not to do too much," he said after homering during last night's win over New York. "Baseball is weird. Sometimes you run into them, and sometimes you don't."

Truth be told, Suzuki has been working extensively with hitting coach Rick Eckstein on a shorter, more-compact swing, the result of which is starting to produce tangible results.

Suzuki's recent hot streak coincides with the Nationals' overall offensive surge. All of a sudden, a lineup that often struggled during the season's first half to score three or four runs a night is now averaging 6.8 runs (and 2.5 homers) per night.

"From what I've been seeing so far since I've been here, the talent is unbelievable," Suzuki said. "So it doesn't surprise me one bit."