Kurt Suzuki felt something in his hip flexor muscles when he went down to block a ball in Game 3 of the World Series, and it was enough of an issue that he left the game after six innings, then went to have an MRI, though the Washington Nationals eventually decided that they would not need to remove the 36-year-old catcher from the roster to bring on a different option.
Suzuki wasn’t going to catch Game 4, since it was Patrick Corbin, who had worked with Yan Gomes exclusively all season, set to start, but whether Suzuki could back up the catcher in the event of any injury was a question as well.
Davey Martinez said that Suzuki was available in an emergency in Game 4, and they were hoping he would be able to catch Max Scherzer in Game 5.
“I know he’s in there getting treatment right now,” the manager said, “and if he wakes up, he’s going to come in early and work on his hip flexor. If he feels good, then possibly he gets a chance to play.”
When it was Scherzer who ended up being scratched, the Nationals went with Gomes and Joe Ross as the battery in last night’s 7-1 loss.
Martinez did provide a status update on the backstop before the game, however.
“He’s better today,” he said. “Yesterday he came up to me towards the end of the game, told me he could pinch-hit.”
“I thought with Joe starting, let Yan catch,” Martinez explained, “give [Suzuki] another day and with an off day tomorrow he should be ready to go Game 6.”
At the plate, Suzuki is just 3 for 30 with a home run in the postseason, but he was Martinez’s choice in each of the first three World Series games, and 10 games total this month until the injury kept him out.
Suzuki told reporters in a conference call on Monday afternoon that the hip was getting better, and he was close to being ready to return.
“It feels better, obviously. I got some treatment and stuff like that, and it’s progressing. So we’ll see,” he said.
“Going to do some stuff today and we’ll figure out more tonight after we get into Houston about tomorrow. Everything is looking good so far.”
As for what he’s seen from the Astros while he’s watched the last few games?
“I’ve done pretty much all my homework the first couple of games,” Suzuki said.
“Just a matter of changing up your sequences and your patterns and things like that, because obviously they’re good hitters over there, they make adjustments, as well.
“So we just have to change it up and at times go with your pitcher’s strengths. So we’ll see. It should be interesting.”
He was available to pinch hit the past few nights though Martinez didn’t end up turning to him.
“I was ready, ready to pinch-hit. I kept it in an emergency, obviously,” Suzuki explained.
“But just kind of my thing and treatments obviously, not doing blocking drills like I would do in Spring Training. But just trying to stay sharp and be ready.
“I think at this point in the season, you’re always going to be ready. So there’s nothing extra that I have to do at this point in the season to stay ready. We’re good to go. We’re ready.”
Game 6 starter Stephen Strasburg actually put up better numbers with Gomes behind the plate in the regular season, with a 2.89 ERA and a .199/.267/.346 line against in 16 games and 99 2⁄3 IP vs the 3.70 ERA and .219/.274/.351 line against in 109 1⁄3 IP with Suzuki, but the Nationals’ skipper has gone with Suzuki behind the plate in each of Strasburg’s postseason starts so far.
“I’m actually looking at him right now, he just walked in my office,” Martinez said in his own conference call on Monday afternoon, before the team flew back to Houston.
“We haven’t talked yet. I’m going to find out his status.”
“Hopefully he’s progressing, but we’ll see how he’s feeling. He’s going to do some activities today and see how he feels after that.”
Will Suzuki be back in there again tonight?
Will the Nationals be able to avoid elimination in the sixth game of the series, after winning the first two in Minute Maid Park and losing all three in the nation’s capital?
And what has allowed the Nats to perform so well in win-or-go-home games this month like the Wild Card Game and Games 4 and 5 of the NLDS?
“I really don’t know,” Suzuki said. “Pretty much everybody eliminated us from the season in May. So we’ve kind of been playing like every game was an elimination game since then.
“But just basically you’ve just got to go out and play. You can’t worry about what’s at stake and this and that. You try to play it as much as possible as another baseball game. And we’ve been in this spot before earlier this postseason. And we’ve just got to go out there and play baseball, man. We can’t control the future. We just control what’s at present right now, and that’s going out there and competing.”