Nats name Suzuki personal catcher for Sanchez

Brian Tinsman
March 17, 2019 - 9:27 pm
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Washington Nationals skipper Dave Martinez has yet to name an Opening Day catcher, but we know Kurt Suzuki will catch at least every five days.

That's because Anibal Sanchez, who signed this offseason to replace Tanner Roark in the rotation, will have a personal catcher.

The two formed an effective battery in Atlanta last season, where Sanchez had the second lowest ERA (2.83) of his accomplished career and his best season since 2013.

Suzuki is in a Spring Training competition of sorts with Yan Gomes, another offseason addition, albeit one with an All-Star 2018 season.

Martinez insists that he hasn't picked an Opening Day starter yet and that the competition continues, but praised Suzuki's influence on Sanchez.

"They work really well together," Martinez said of Sanchez and Suzuki. "Other than that, they're (Suzuki and Gomes) both going to catch, have to catch (Max) Scherzer, (Stephen) Stras(burg), (and Patrick) Corbin."

Both players have the stamp of approval from Scherzer, who will get the Opening Day start on the mound. Martinez indicated that both catchers are expected to work with the rest of the rotation.

Suzuki came into Sunday batting .391/.391/.565 in eight Spring Training games. Gomes is one of the few hotter hitters in the lineup, stroking .444/.464/.926 in 11 exhibition games.

Gomes joins the Nationals after seven seasons in the American League and might need some time to learn the opposing pitchers. Suzuki spent each of the last two seasons in Atlanta, which could help him against NL East opponents.

"I want to look at - because Suzuki was in this league - what he does against starters," Martinez offered. "Because when he hits a guy fairly well, he hits them. That’s something I definitely want to pay attention to."

Unlike most teams that have a clear-cut starting and backup catcher, the Nats seem committed to keeping both players engaged in the starting lineup. What that looks like during the regular season remains to be seen.

 

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