BOSTON - As Andrew Susac sets the target tonight for Kevin Gausman, he’ll be making his first start in a major league game since Aug. 12, 2017 with the Brewers. He received six more at-bats spread over six games in September, his only hit coming in his final plate appearance on Sept. 30 in St. Louis.
Susac wasn’t expecting the Orioles to recall him. He found out late last night and grabbed a flight to Boston.
“Kind of out of nowhere,” he said this afternoon while standing outside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park. “It’s pretty much what it’s always been like. It’s never when you expect it, I tell everyone.
“Surprised, excited, very excited. Besides the ankle injury down there, I’ve been feeling pretty good about my game. I’m in a good place right now.”
Susac was batting .296/.424/.537 with four doubles, three home runs and 14 RBIs in 16 games with Norfolk and got the call ahead of catcher Austin Wynns, who’s also on the 40-man roster and batting .253/.326/.347 in 22 games.
“I made a lot of adjustments in the offseason, my swing,” Susac said. “I’ve squared off my stance, eliminated some of the moving parts. Strikeouts are a little high, a little higher than I’d like them to be. Contact was a lot harder and more consistent than it was last year. That’s a bonus for me.”
The Orioles must be looking for an offensive jolt behind the plate. Joseph was batting .182/.203/.325 with four doubles, two triples, one home run and three RBIs in 77 at-bats. Perhaps Susac can provide one during his starts.
“I hope so,” he said. “That’s the plan. I don’t go up there trying to fail. I’m just going to take it just like I was doing down there and keep it going.”
There should be lots of chances in this series with the Red Sox starting left-handers David Price, Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez. He’s a career .321/.411/.538 hitter in 90 plate appearances against southpaws.
“It feels good,” he said. “You want to get here and dip your feet in the water and get it going. It’ll be my first time at Fenway. I’m excited. A lot of tradition. I’m glad I’m playing tonight.”
Because he was hospitalized briefly in spring training with a staph infection, Susac had to get caught up while trying to familiarize himself with the pitchers in camp.
“It’s important,” he said. “I’m starting to figure out what guys are like personality-wise. (That’s) important, too. You can talk to (and find out) who needs a little more of a breather when they’re out there, what are these guys strikeout pitches?
“This spring was challenging because we had so many pitchers. Shoot, I don’t even think I caught everyone in spring. It was tough. You just go on the fly, I guess. Go on the fly. This is my third team. I feel like this was an easier transition than the last one.
“I caught Gausman. I caught (Dylan) Bundy. I caught pretty much everyone. That’s how it works. He’s been pitching well. I’ve been following. We watch the games and what-not after we’re done up there. Seems like he’s been on a roll, so keep it going.”
Susac will sit down with Gausman later this afternoon to review the Red Sox’s hitters. Susac knows he needs to shorten the learning curve.
“I’ve got to see how they’re doing it here, but normally we’ll get a game plan going together before the game,” he said. “That way, we’re not on a completely different page. But in the end, he knows these hitters a lot better than I do.
“I’m NL all of my career. Coming in here, we’re going to do as much research as we can before. A lot of it is just going to be trusting him and our game plan.”
Depending on how he plays and the needs of the clubs, there could be plenty of other chances for Susac beyond this series.
“I would hope so,” he said. “I’m a good player. I’ve always thought that of myself. When the opportunity comes, you’ve got to take advantage of it. That’s really what it comes down to.”
For the Red Sox
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
J.D. Martinez DH
Xander Bogaerts SS
Rafael Devers 3B
Brock Holt 2B
Sandy Leon C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
David Price LHP
The postponed game between the Orioles and Phillies on May 15 has been rescheduled for July 12 at 6:05 p.m.
Eutaw St. Gates A and H will open at 4 p.m., while all remaining gates will open at 4:30 p.m. Parking lots will open at 2:30 p.m.