The Washington Times - August 4, 2012, 06:59PM

The Nationals wasted no time in integrating Kurt Suzuki into their team and introducing him to the loose nature of their pre-game clubhouse.

While Suzuki met with reporters, his new teammates did their best to distract him. Give the catcher credit. Outside of a few breaks for laughter and one moment where he admitted he lost his train of thought, Suzuki did well to maintain his composure.


Here’s some of what Suzuki had to say:

On how it feels to be a National: “I’m excited. At first, I’d like to say I had a great time in Oakland. There’s a lot of good memories there, but I’m ready for this and I couldn’t be happier to be a Washington National. I’m just looking forward to hanging out with the guys. I’m getting to know a lot of guys now and meeting everybody, hanging out. I’m just trying to fit in.”

On how much he followed the Nationals before Friday’s trade: “You always follow the Nationals knowing they’ve got great young players. This year, having played with (Gio Gonzalez) for a few years, following Gio and this Washington team and the pitching staff and the hitters, how they play well together and they’ve got a lot of energy and a lot of talent. I’m excited to be a part of this.”

On now catching the best pitching staff in baseball: “That’s the one thing I’m really looking forward to, working with these pitchers, getting to know them. I had a great pitching staff in Oakland for a number of years, and to come here, these guys are incredibly talented. I’ve been watching them on TV and watching them pitch, and I’m really excited.”

On if he sees himself as someone who can provide veteran leadership to the staff: “I like to keep it loose, have fun. The biggest thing is having fun. The veteran presence, maybe a situation you can diffuse it a little bit by calming them down and having fun. But it’s just working well, getting to know the pitching staff’s personalities to know what you have to do in what situation.”

On how long it’ll take him to get comfortable with the pitching staff and if that’s a big adjustment: “To me it is, because that’s the most important thing: to build that relationship with the pitchers. That’s what I take my pride in. It’s going to definitely be a little bit of a work in progress, but I’m going to do everything I can to speed up the process. I think it’ll be OK.

“The quicker the better, I guess, right? I already kind of do scouting reports. I already did it today, already did my report that I’d do with Oakland, but I did it here. Talk to (Jordan Zimmermann) later on, right after I’m done with you guys to kind of go over his philosophy on pitching and what he likes to do. The quicker we get on the same page, the better it’ll be.”

On his relationship with Gonzalez: “I caught him first start ever in the big leagues. To see him grow like he has, and to see him this year, he’s done awesome this year. This pitching staff is incredible. I’m looking forward to working with Gio again and working with this whole pitching staff.”

On what he attributes his offensive struggles to this season: “Not really one thing. I’m not here to make excuses. I’m here to get what’s right, fix it and do whatever I can to contribute, whether situational hitting or whatnot. I’ll do whatever I need to do to help the team win. But my focus right now, my top priority, is to do my job on the defensive job.”

On if not playing everyday contributed to those struggles (Suzuki was relegated to more of a backup role when the A’s called up Derek Norris - a former Nationals prospect - earlier this season): “It’s tough going from playing every day, 140 games a year, to playing once every three days. It’s definitely tough, and it’s an adjustment. But it was what it was. I’m excited for this opportunity right now and joining a good group of guys. So far, I’ve been really welcomed here, and I’m excited.”

On his relationship with Davey Johnson: “Well, I was with Davey in ’06 on the Olympic National team, qualifying team, in Cuba. And (hitting coach Rick Eckstein), was actually our third base/hitting coach. So I have some history with those guys. I had a great time playing there. Davey’s a real firey guy, you just play hard for him and that’s all he asks. Eck, Eck’s another fiery guy too, so I had a great relationship with those guys, and it was a special team there, too, so we had a good relationship.”

On if he sees ways he could make the Nationals’ pitching staff better: “They’re doing great right now. I’m not here to recreate the wheel and say, ‘You can do this,’. They’re doing a great job now. I’m looking to come in, maybe give a couple bits of input, but I’m just here to carry it and do whatever I can to help them be successful. And the main part is we’re successful. Forget everything about making them better. If we’re successful, it’s going to be good.”