District 9: Kurt Suzuki

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We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 1 of Inside Pitch.

1. What was your relationship like with Nationals fans during your first few months with the team?

When I first came over, the first game I played was a sellout – 40,000-plus people in the stands. It was just amazing support. Being able to celebrate the division championship with the fans, showing them the appreciation we have for them supporting us and always having our back, was a special moment.

2. Describe running out on the field during the postseason in front of the home crowd. What was going through your head in that moment?

I was thinking just how awesome a feeling this is – this is what you play for. To be able to run on the field knowing what’s at stake was awesome.

3. How have the expectations changed for the Nationals since last season?

We’ve got a bull’s-eye on our backs now – people are gunning for us so it’s a little different. I think we’re thriving off of it. The attitude hasn’t changed. It’s a whole new season, and we’re focused on 2013 and getting the job done again.

4. What did you want to work on going into Spring Training this year?

The most important thing is to build rapport with the pitchers. To me, Spring Training is the most important part of the season because it gives me more time to build relationships with the pitchers, catch their bullpens and learn more about them. I think the closer the bond you get, the easier it is to get on the same page.

5. What’s your defensive mindset when there’s going to be a close play at home?

To me, the play at the plate is the most exciting play for a catcher. Our job is to minimize the amount of times the opposing team crosses home plate. Having a good play at the plate where you get the guy out and everything works out perfectly is the best feeling.

6. How does your catching hand feel when you’re catching this flame-throwing pitching staff?

I didn’t need a radar gun to tell me that we had the best arms in the league, I just knew from receiving them. It was impressive.

7. Is there anyone on the pitching staff that you think could have a breakout season?

It’s so hard, because they’re all good. To me, I think a big key will be (Ross) Detwiler. Catching him, I think he’s due for a big year. He’s got a great arm like everybody else does. I think a lot of people after this season are going to know who Ross Detwiler is.

8. What have you learned about playing for Davey Johnson?

Davey always has your back. He knows you’re going to make mistakes, but when you make mistakes he tries to teach you and correct you rather than taking you down. The biggest thing for me is that he’s always on your side, always protecting you. That’s huge for a player’s confidence.

9. Tell us a little bit about the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation. How did that come about?

My wife Renee and I decided to do a foundation, and we decided to choose something that was close to us and close to our family. She has a sister with a rare kidney disease. My dad had kidney cancer and has been in remission for five years now. We’re really so grateful to be in a position to help out.

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