Susac has played in 11 Orioles spring games, going 3-for-10 with a homer and four RBIs. He’ll turn 28 on Thursday and has played parts of the last four seasons in the majors for San Francisco and Milwaukee. He is a career .232/.299/.396 batter in 104 games and 274 plate appearances with 16 doubles, two triples, seven homers and 35 RBIs. He went 1-for-12 last year with the Brewers, batting .083. He has thrown out 25 percent of attempting basestealers.
Susac said the O’s group of four catchers on the 40-man roster have been a tight unit. One that is now down to three players with two set to make the opening day roster.
“I’ve really enjoy being around Wynny and Sisco and Caleb (Joseph),” he said. “You learn a lot, even from the younger players you learn a lot. Chance is very mature for 23. He’s relaxed and that is something you need out there. Someone that can slow the game down when things get out of control. Because it will. I’ve never been in the AL East. But things can get out of control in hurry, from what I’ve heard with the longball. But just the maturity and camaraderie we’ve had this spring, it is very unique and I have enjoyed competing with these guys.”
Susac said the catchers have been a team within a team this spring.
“Yeah. We’re all trying to get better together,” he said. “Competition is what it is. Once that game starts, you are fending for your own and you are playing your heart out for yourself and your family. I just enjoy competition. Once you stop enjoying competition is probably the time to hang it up.
“I’ve never been one to be very comfortable. I’ve never been in a spot to be very comfortable. But I feel that even if I was a starter, I would come in here and act like nothing was guaranteed or given to me.”
Susac missed the first few days of spring training and was briefly hospitalized due to a staph infection. He feels he has finally caught up with the other players.
Susac has had a career filled with a few ups and several downs. Just last year he made three trips to the disabled list while playing for the Brewers. Recurring headaches put him on the shelf for a while and required medication and an oxygen tank. Then he joined his new team and was in the hospital almost at the moment workouts began.
“It is something I had to learn at a young age,” Susac said. “You are not going to play every day. And you have to, I don’t want to say lower your standards. But it is just something you have to cope with when you are used to playing every day and succeeding, more so than being a backup role. You have to take into hand what it is important.
“For me, I was always a great hitter and great defensive catcher. But I started to let hitting kind of weigh on my mind more than it should. Somewhere along the way I had to figure out that catching was the important role as a backup and getting that pitcher through six innings. And accept the fact that sometimes it won’t be your day at the plate. But if you can control things behind the plate, that was most important and it took me while to figure that out. As a backup, there are different expectations for yourself.”