OAKLAND -- While an integral member of the A's for much of last season, Kurt Suzuki was not a part of the team's postseason push. The catcher was dealt in August to the Nationals after spending six seasons in Oakland, as the A's handed the reins to Derek Norris.
Suzuki returned to the club this year after he was acquired with cash considerations on Aug. 23, and he's been part of a three-man platoon with Norris and Stephen Vogt.
The role requires less responsibility than years past, as he's platooned with Norris against left-handed pitchers while the left-handed-hitting Vogt gets starts against righties, but Suzuki said his focus is on contributing to a team likely headed for its second straight division title.
"It's a little different for me because I wasn't here when they won," Suzuki said. "When you're in the playoff chase it makes it more exciting."
Suzuki started 73 games for the Nationals prior to rejoining the A's, hitting .222 with three home runs and 25 RBI in 252 at-bats. He received just his ninth start of the season at catcher for the A's on Saturday in relief of Norris, who started Friday night.
"It is unusual, but that's how they do it here," Suzuki said. "You just got to do the best you can with what you're given. Everybody's doing a good job, so it's working. Don't change it, right?"
Norris has excelled as of late, hitting .337 since July 1 with five of his eight home runs, resulting in limited opportunities for Suzuki.
"It doesn't matter," Suzuki said. "You find a way to get it done. You're a professional, you figure out ways to be successful."
Barton gets start vs. lefty with Freiman still hurting
OAKLAND --Daric Barton once again received the start at first base for the A's on Saturday over right-handed-hitting Nate Freiman against Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
The two usually share the position against lefties, but Freiman's return from an abdominal strain suffered four days ago is still up in the air, manager Bob Melvin said, adding that the 6-foot-8 rookie is unlikely to play until the team's next series at the earliest.
"These things you got to be pretty careful with," Melvin said. "Hopefully maybe next series, but not a piece today. Maybe he ends up taking some light swings today, but I don't think anything significant."
Freiman was reserved when asked about the ailment, saying he could return to swinging the bat soon but was uncertain as to when exactly that would be.
"It's getting better," he said.
The setback, along with Barton's strong play since rejoining the team on Aug. 26, won't do Freiman any favors when Melvin looks to set his postseason roster.
• Coco Crisp was a late scratch at leadoff on Saturday.
Melvin replaced Crisp with Chris Young in part for precautionary measures to protect him from a slick outfield saturated by the game's two-hour, one-minute rain delay.
"He was due for a day off, and then when it started raining ... just felt like this would be the day for him," Melvin said. "It's tough. Nobody wants a day off right now either. We try to schedule some periodic days off just to keep him fresh. Today ended up being that day."
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.