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Suzuki arrives, Flores adjusts

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Suzuki arrives, Flores adjusts

Kurt Suzuki learned of his trade from the Athletics to the Nationals around 11 a.m. PDT Friday. His first reaction upon hearing the news?

"Get me on the first flight out," the 28-year-old catcher said. "I want to be there as soon as I can to help the team. I was really looking forward to this opportunity. This is a good situation for me."

Suzuki arrived in Washington late Friday night and this afternoon was strolling through the clubhouse at Nationals Park in a red curly W cap, shaking hands and meeting new teammates, coaches, clubhouse attendants and media members. All this before actually taking his position behind the plate for his Nationals debut at 7:05 p.m.

"It's been a whirlwind, for sure," he said.

Suzuki, who was dealt from Oakland in exchange for minor-league catcher David Freitas, immediately takes over as the Nationals' No. 1 catcher. The man he replaces, Jesus Flores, wasn't nearly as excited to learn of the trade and his subsequent relegation to a reserve role but cleared the air with manager Davey Johnson during a closed-door meeting this afternoon.

"I had a long conversation with Jesus, and we're alright," Johnson said. "We're good to go. ... We got an established catcher. Jesus was playing very well about three years ago before suffering a major shoulder injury. He's made great strides in coming back, but he's not quite where I know he can be. That was basically the conversation."

Though the Nationals announced the Suzuki trade around 2:30 p.m. Friday, Flores told reporters he hadn't been informed of the deal when asked for his reaction eight hours later at the conclusion of a doubleheader split with the Marlins.

"That's just part of the life we lead," Johnson said. "Midseason trades are obviously more difficult than offseason trades. But he's not going anywhere. His role has changed a little bit. Your role is predicated on performance. The better you play, the bigger the role you get. That's kind of the way baseball has been played ever since I can remember."

Suzuki has spent his entire, six-year career with the A's, and other than ex-teammate Gio Gonzalez, he's never caught anyone on the Nationals staff. He took a crash course on various pitchers' repertoires, particularly Jordan Zimmermann, who starts tonight's game.

"That's the most important thing: To build that relationship with the pitchers," he said. "That's what I take my pride in. It's going to definitely be a little bit of a work in progress, but I'm going to do everything I can to speed up the process. I think it'll be OK."

The Nationals want Suzuki -- who at the time of the trade led all qualifying AL catchers with a .996 fielding percentage and 38.3 percent caught stealing percentage -- to focus primarily on his defensive game for now, helping guide what has been baseball's best pitching staff this season through a pennant race.

"That's the one thing I'm really looking forward to, working with these pitchers, getting to know them," he said. "I had a great pitching staff in Oakland for a number of years, and to come here, these guys are incredibly talented. I've been watching them on TV and watching them pitch, and I'm really excited."

To clear space on the active roster for Suzuki, the Nationals optioned Sandy Leon to Class AAA Syracuse.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others