Los Angeles Angels catcher Kurt Suzuki revealed on Tuesday to Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register that he will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2022 season after a 16-year career.
“I feel like it’s time,” the 38-year-old catcher said. “I’ve had a great run, won a World Series, All-Star Game. Played 16 seasons. I’ve accomplished a lot of things I never would have dreamed of. I felt like it’s time for the next chapter. My three kids, all they’ve known is baseball.”
Suzuki, a one-time All-Star and World Series champion, has made 1,632 appearances for the Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, and Angels. He hasn’t played, however, since August 28, when he was put on the bereavement list.
“They used to be excited to watch me on TV,” Cal State Fullerton graduate said. “Now they want me at home. That’s kind of when you know. I’ve said from the beginning, family is always first. That comes first no matter what. The game will tell you, but also your family will tell you.”
The Hawaii native’s career is coming to an end after a disappointing record of hitting.179 with a.562 OPS, but He is still regarded as a positive force in the organization.
“He means a lot to this organization,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “He’s been a great teammate here for a couple of years. He’s not going to be away from baseball, I can tell you that. He’s going to be a big part of it, whether he’s doing the same thing I’m doing or in the front office. He’s too good for this game.”
Suzuki, who began his career with the A’s, still wishes to play baseball. He will start to coach for “Torrance Little League.” He also said that he plans to speak with Angels general manager Perry Minasian about “wherever I can help out.”
The veteran catcher will get at least one start at home before the season ends, according to Nevin.
Angels’ catchers: Stassi, Thaiss
As a result of Suzuki’s retirement, catchers Max Stassi and Matt Thaiss will most likely see increased playing time in 2023. Although after two seasons that earned him a $17.5 million contract extension, Stassi has struggled this season, hitting.179 and going 4-for-72.
“Way below my standards,” the 31-year-old catcher said. “It has not been good. Horrible. My coaches, everyone, has been helping me out. I’m just the one not getting it done.”
Manager Nevin, on the other hand, believes his work with the team’s pitchers is still valuable. Shohei Ohtani has caught every one of his 25 starts. This season, the Angels’ ERA is 3.82, down from 4.69 in 2021.
“He’s done a phenomenal job, catching Shohei each time obviously,” Nevin said. “He really does a great job with our younger pitchers. When he’s not playing he’s engaged, helping with [Thaiss]. Both him and [Suzuki].
The 27-year-old Thaiss was in the Angels’ first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, played first base from 2016 to 2020, rising through the minor league ranks until he made his MLB debut in 2019.
Thaiss has shown some promise in his first real chance at bat in recent weeks. He attributes much of his progress in relearning how to play catcher to the Angels’ lead catcher, Stassi, as well as Suzuki.
The roles of Stassi and Thaiss behind the plate may change in the future. The upcoming rule changes are expected to increase stolen bases, putting more pressure on catchers to stop the running game.