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Kurt Suzuki was all smiles after homering in the second inning yesterday.
The Nationals' two catchers, splitting time behind the plate 50-50, have made the most of what playing time they've gotten so far. The end result: Perhaps the most-productive catching corps in the majors.
The two backstops really took off over the weekend in Cincinnati. Ramos was the offensive star of Saturday's 11-inning victory, clubbing a pair of home runs to lead the Nationals to a 7-6 win. Suzuki then accounted for all of the Nats' offense in Sunday's 6-3 loss, launching a three-run homer in the top of the second (not to mention adding a couple of doubles for good measure).
Put it all together and these two are producing at a level befitting a middle-of-the-order slugger, not a tandem No. 8 hitter...
AB H 2B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
Ramos 9 4 0 2 3 .444 .583 1.111 1.694
Suzuki 9 3 2 1 3 .333 .400 .889 1.289
TOTAL 18 7 2 3 6 .389 .476 1.000 1.476
How's that combined stat line look? Not too shabby.
Davey Johnson acknowledged at the end of spring training that keeping both Ramos and Suzuki fresh and content with their playing time will be among his toughest challenges this season. So far, each catcher can make a reasonable case for getting more playing time.
Each, though, has said all the right things about the situation and is taking steps to keep himself active on days when the other guy is behind the plate.
Suzuki said it's more important for him to stay fresh defensively than offensively when he's not in the lineup.
"I don't focus too much on my hitting," he said. "It's more catching. I'll do a lot of stuff off the pitching machine, just exchanges, receiving. Whoever's throwing bullpens that day, I'll catch them. I'll work with [bench coach and catching instructor] Randy Knorr a lot.
"My hitting routine is just kind of the same thing every day. I don't like to do too much more, I don't like to take extra swings. I feel like catching bullpens, for me, is pretty good just because I get to track the ball to me, and it kind of gives me a little more seeing the ball coming toward me like that."
That may also have something to do with Suzuki's overall hitting philosophy.
"Just trying to keep it simple, not trying to over-think myself," he said. "You just want to attack the ball and not get too passive and think too much. I was talking with [Tyler Moore] a little bit earlier today. [Sometimes] you just go up there thinking, 'OK, I've go to do this,' instead of just going up there and just swinging. Just swing hard, and hopefully you hit it."
Hey, it worked for Suzuki yesterday. And whatever he and Ramos are doing so far while adjusting to life as every-other-day catchers, the result speaks for itself.