Suzuki's switch and Oakland's hopes

Updated: March 7, 2010, 3:47 PM ET
By Buster Olney
Bob Geren approached Kurt Suzuki the other day and asked the Oakland catcher how he felt about hitting third in the Athletics' lineup. "Would that make you nervous?" Geren asked.

The A's manager was kidding -- about being nervous. He was not kidding at all about using Suzuki, who is entering his fourth season in the majors, in the 3-hole. Because among a group of Athletics hitters who are young, inconsistent and still developing, Suzuki's ability to make contact is consistent.

He doesn't draw a lot of walks; Suzuki's on-base percentage was .313 last season and .346 in 2008. In a stronger offense, he probably would hit in the 2-hole, because he runs well, or lower in the lineup. But the fact that he puts the ball in play and is increasingly driving the ball -- he had 53 extra-base hits last season, 20 more than in 2008 -- makes him a candidate to bat third for Oakland.

"We always thought he could be a .280 hitter or so," Geren said. "He's got a very simple swing -- not a lot of moving parts."

What level of production could he expect this season?

"I try not to put limitations on myself," Suzuki said.