BALTIMORE -- Kurt Suzuki went from one second-place team to another Friday, but not all second-place teams are alike.
Suzuki's new old team, the Washington Nationals, came into the weekend 14 games out in the National League East. His old new team, the A's, came in with eight more wins (71-63) and were just 2½ games out of first place in the American League West.
"It's bittersweet," Suzuki said of the deal, which reversed the direction he went last year when the Nationals acquired him as part of their playoff push. "But it's great to have a chance to play for a team that has a chance to win it all."
Suzuki's presence in the Oakland clubhouse Friday lifted spirits for a team that is 15-16 since the All-Star break.
"Obviously we're excited to have him here," starter Jarrod Parker said, noting the success of A's pitching last year had much to do with learning from Suzuki. "It gives us a little bit of a boost. We are basically still young and he has such great knowledge of the game."
Manager Bob Melvin wouldn't commit to having the right-handed Suzuki platoon with the left-handed Stephen Vogt behind the plate. Suzuki will start Saturday against right-hander Chris Tillman.
Vogt, the last healthy A's catcher with John Jaso (concussion) and Derek Norris (fractured left big toe) on the disabled list, was in a collision Wednesday, so the manager might just want to get Vogt off his feet and get Suzuki back on the job as quickly as possible.
"He's terrific," Melvin said of Suzuki, adding that Suzuki belongs in an A's uniform. "We needed to add a catcher and this is as good a fit as we would have. This transition will be an easy one."
"It's cool," starter A.J. Griffin said. "I only threw to him once last year, but it was six shutout innings in Texas (June 29, 2012). He's good to throw to. He makes it easy."
Even when the A's had healthy catchers, they had problems blocking balls in the dirt, leading to wild pitches and passed balls. Suzuki should impact that.
"Whether the ball is in the dirt or over his head," starter Tommy Milone said, "he's become superman to keep that ball from getting behind him."
Suzuki had only a .225 batting average with the Nationals and wasn't seeing much playing time. He will get playing time now.
"I've always had the same philosophy," Suzuki said. "Tell me when I'm playing, and I'm in."
So are his teammates.
"It's good to see the (front office) give us some help," closer Grant Balfour said. "Hopefully we've got a few more games to play than just what's on the schedule."