WASHINGTON -- Catcher Kurt Suzuki arrived at Nationals Park and wore uniform No. 24 in his debut on Saturday night.
Suzuki was acquired from the Athletics on Friday afternoon to improve the Nats' game-calling behind the plate. According to two team sources, the Nationals didn't like the way Jesus Flores would often change the game plan against opposing teams without permission.
When Suzuki found out about the trade, he wanted to get the next flight to Washington in order to join his new team the next day.
"I'm excited," Suzuki said. "First, I'd like to say I had a great time in Oakland. I had a lot of great memories there, but I'm ready for this and I couldn't be happier to be a Washington National. I'm just trying to fit in.
"That's the one thing I'm really looking forward to, is working with these pitchers, getting to know them. I had a great pitching staff in Oakland for a number of years. To come here, these guys are incredibly talented. I've been watching them on TV and watching these guys pitch, and I'm really excited."
Suzuki will be reunited with left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Together in Oakland, they won 38 games. Gonzalez said that Suzuki takes the pressure off the pitchers, and his work ethic is second to none. Suzuki is usually one of the last players to leave the park after a game.
"He is a guy that keeps you on your toes. He doesn't like to start the same pattern. He is consistently on top of stuff like that," Gonzalez said. "He brings a veteran presence to it. He has been around guys who had past experience, who had knowledge of the game in the right way. He is going to bring a lot to this game and especially to this team."
From an offense standpoint, Suzuki is having the worst season of his career, hitting .218 with a home run and 18 RBIs. He eventually lost his job to former Nationals catching prospect Derek Norris, who was traded to the A's for Gonzalez last winter.
Suzuki didn't have any excuses as to why he was having an off season at the plate.
"I'm here to get what's right, fix it and do whatever I can to contribute -- whether it's situational hitting or whatnot," Suzuki said. "Off to the side, do whatever I need to do to help the team win, but my main focus right now, my top priority, is to do my job with the pitching staff."
With the acquisition of Suzuki, the Nationals optioned catcher Sandy Leon to Triple-A Syracuse. Leon, 23, played in 10 games for Washington and was 7-for-28 (.250) with two RBIs. He also had the distinction of suffering a high ankle sprain in his first big league game and went on the disabled list after that.
Catcher Flores heads to Nationals' bench
WASHINGTON -- The acquisition of Kurt Suzuki means that Jesus Flores will be on the bench for the Nationals. Entering Saturday's action against the Marlins, Flores is hitting .221 with three home runs and 18 RBIs.
But offense is not the reason Suzuki was acquired. According to two team sources, the Nationals were unhappy with Flores' game-calling. They said that Flores would often go against the game plan against opposing hitters. There were even some in the organization who felt that Flores cared more about his offense than his game-calling.
Flores's future is uncertain after the season. The Nationals will likely go into Spring Training with Suzuki and Wilson Ramos as the catchers, provided that Ramos has fully recovered from right knee surgery.
One has to assume that Flores' future with the club is shaky at best, although general manager Mike Rizzo praised Flores after the trade. Flores said he understood the situation that he put himself in.
"Us, as a player, we need to understand that this is a business," Flores said. "This is a job, you have to do well and if you don't do it well, you are going to be replaced. I feel like I worked hard, I prepare myself to have a great season and I had the opportunity.
"It has been kind of hard not to be as productive as I thought. But I feel proud that I've been doing the best that I could just to [help the pitchers out]. If we really need another guy, they will know the reasons. But I haven't been told anything yet."
According to a baseball source, the 160-inning limit is not set in stone for right-hander Stephen Strasburg. He could go as high as 180 innings. Published reports indicated that general manager Mike Rizzo will make the final call on when Strasburg's season will come to end.
Entering Saturday's action, Strasburg has pitched 121 1/3 innings, has a respectable 3.12 ERA and is second in the National League in strikeouts with 154. Strasburg is on an innings limit this season after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Chris Marrero is on the seven-day disabled list because of a hamstring injury. The Nationals are hoping he returns to Triple-A Syracuse in a couple of weeks.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.