Andrew Susac wants to catch a break this season and stay healthy with the Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Andrew Susac wants to catch a break this season and stay healthy with the Orioles

Andrew Susac
Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA, Fla.—Check out stories about Andrew Susac and you’ll find injuries and illnesses mentioned prominently. With the San Francisco Giants, he had thumb, ankle and wrist injuries. When Susac moved on to the Milwaukee Brewers, it was headaches.

Last year with the Orioles, Susac contracted a staph infection during spring training. When he was with Triple-A Norfolk, he had an ankle injury and a season-ending fractured wrist.

After clearing waivers, Susac is back with the Orioles, trying to make the team. In 2018, Susac had a strong offensive spring after recovering from the staph infection but went down to Norfolk to start the season.

The 28-year-old catcher started in Tuesday’s game and was 2-for-2. He’s 3-for-9 this spring.

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“Being healthy’s always been a struggle for me, so knock on wood, we’re on the right track now,” Susac said.

Susac is one of six catchers in camp. None is considered a sure thing to make the team.

Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns, have the most time with the Orioles. Susac, Carlos Perez and Jesus Sucre, who was a late arrival because of visa issues, have major league experience but aren’t on the 40-man roster. Rookie Martin Cervenka also is in camp

Susac has caught 84 major league games, fewer than Perez or Sucre, but that doesn’t stop him from thinking he’s got a chance to be the team’s starting catcher.

“I don’t think anyone ever goes out there and says, ‘I want to play just to win the backup job,’” Susac said.

Susac says he likes the vibe among the catchers.

“It’s nice to do it with good guys,” Susac said. “It makes the competition fun. Beating your heads against each other is no fun. Everyone here is on the same page. We’re having fun with it.”

A year ago, Susac had 151 at-bats between the Tides and Orioles. He batted .115 in nine games with the Orioles.

“I thought last year I had a pretty dang good year for circumstances that were handed to me,” Susac said. “I felt like offensively, at least in Triple-A, I got back to the player I used to be and felt pretty good at the plate and catching felt great as well.

“If the injuries weren’t there, I’d say it was a dang successful year. It’s hard to go to sleep at night, and say, I’m happy with that, 150 at-bats. It’s just not good. It’s not going to cut it. I’ve got to do what I can do, stay on the field, barring any freak injury, broken bones or things like that. It just seems to be a curse right now. I’m trying to get rid of it.”

Susac’s season ended with a broken wrist in late July. He was placed on the restricted list because he left Norfolk without the Orioles’ permission. It was a difficult end to the season. He hoped to get more time in the majors, but felt he really wasn’t ready to play at the major league level when the Orioles summoned him in mid-May when they optioned Caleb Joseph to the Tides.

“It was tough. I’m not an excuse-maker, but I sprained my ankle,” Susac said. “I get two rehab games, and I get called up. I just flat out don’t think I was ready. I hadn’t seen a live pitch in two, three weeks, and you’re going in facing [Aroldis] Chapman in the ninth inning.

“At the end of the day, you can look at the stats and say, ‘You were bad. You flat out weren’t good.’ In my role and what I’ve gotten used to is being a critic of myself, but you have to realistic at the same time. [Twenty-six] at-bats doesn’t make or break anyone. I go 3-for-3, I’m hitting .280. It’s hard to judge 20 at-bats, and then I say, ‘I had a terrible year.’ That’s kind of where I’m at with last year.”

The Orioles’ management is getting its first look at Susac. They kept him on the 40-man roster until January 11, when he was designated for assignment.

“It was a shock in that it happened so late,” Susac said. “You also wonder. You see moves late. You try not to play GM, and just keep your head on. I wouldn’t say I was shocked. I was more shocked that I wasn’t claimed off waivers.

“I like to think of myself highly and think of myself as a 40-man player. These are the cards that I’ve been dealt, and this is a result of being injured and not being on the field.

“I don’t blame other teams for not taking a shot at me with my injury history. It’s something I have to deal with every day, being healthy and being on the field. If you’re not on the field, you’re no good to anyone, broken bones, things I can’t control, staph infection, some catchers get through it unscathed. Others are like me, and it’s part of the business. It’s part of the position.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. jkneps63

    March 5, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Susac went 3 for 26 with the Os in 2018. Adding a 3 for 3 game, that’s 6 for 29 for a 0.207 average (not quite 0.280).

    He did have a very impressive 0.405 OBP and 0.861 OPS at Norfolk and he threw out 10 of 24 (42%) of base stealers at Norfolk.

    Here’s hoping he stays healthy for all of 2019 and pushes for some MLB playing time too.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 5, 2019 at 9:07 pm

      I knew that, but I generally don’t correct people in print, jkneps.

    • SofaKingCool1

      March 5, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Jesus thanks math man…his point is it is small sample size theater, as Brian Kenney says.

      If Susac ever actually gets even semi-regular PT and the team sticks with him he’d hit, hit for power, and get on base well above average as he’s done at every level including the Show, everything they want in today’s MLB. In the only time when he did get to play regularly….with the Giants in 2014 after Brandon Belt got hit on his melon and Posey had to play 1B regularly, for those last 7 weeks of the season he slashed .297/.350/.527, 3 HR, 8 2B and 18 ribeyes in 28 games (17 starts), including .385 with 2 outs and RISP. The team went 17-11 in those games, and of course won a World Series.

  2. Camden Brooks

    March 5, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Just to confuse our opponents, announcers, and fans, we should keep Sisco, Susac, AND Sucre…

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 5, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Not s bad idea, Camden Brooks.

    • SofaKingCool1

      March 6, 2019 at 9:31 am

      Now that’s some funny sheeet….well-played.

  3. Tony Paparella

    March 6, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Sad part of the game is the numbers thing.Everyone can’t play everyday and unless you get really hot you will probably remain in the original slot before pre season.I liked the pickup of Susac last year but he seemed to fall off the map.Hopefully they hang on to him in some part with the organization because I think he could become a decent player if he can shake off the bad luck.

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