Fumihiro Suzuki (Sydney)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.
Fumihiro Suzuki is a former Olympic player who spent over a decade in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Suzuki led his league once in steals while in college, an oddity for a catcher. He would be used as a pinch-runner at times during his career, an unusual role for someone from his position. The Chunichi Dragons took him in the 4th round of the 1997 draft. He made his pro debut as a defensive sub. On October 11, 1998, he connected off Kazuo Fukumori for his first pro hit. He was 5 for 8 with a double and a walk on the year. Suzuki hit .214/.250/.268 in 36 games in 1999, backing up Takeshi Nakamura at catcher. He played one game in the 1999 Japan Series but did not bat; Chunichi fell to the Daiei Hawks.
In 2000, Fumihiro hit .226/.258/.339 in 42 games as a bench player; he took Takashi Saito deep for his first NPB homer. He was picked to represent Japan in the 2000 Olympics and was used as their starting catcher ahead of Shinnosuke Abe, who would have a much better career. Suzuki hit .290/.333/.387 in Australia but allowed 7 steals in 7 tries behind the plate. His work in the Sydney Games earned him the nickname Sydney from Chunichi skipper Senichi Hoshino. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in the Bronze Medal game loss to Dae-sung Koo and South Korea.
Suzuki was just 1 for 17 with two walks in 2001. Backing up Motonobu Tanishige in 2002, he was 5 for 25 with a walk, double and eleven strikeouts. Chunichi, having little use for Suzuki with Tanishige anchoring the catcher spot, sold him to the Kintetsu Buffaloes. He was 1 for 10 with a homer in 2003, as a third-stringer. He did not appear in 2004.
Moving to the Orix Buffaloes when Kintetsu merged with the Orix BlueWave, Suzuki got into 44 games in 2005, hitting .103/.116/.147 in 72 plate appearances, again as a third-stringer. He was 3 for 13 with a walk and triple in 2006, scored a run but did not bat in 2007 and was 3 for 18 with a walk and nine strikeouts in 2008.
At age 34 in 2009, Suzuki set new career highs in at-bats (140) and games (63) while batting .200/.277/.236. He stole 8 bases in 10 tries while backing up Takeshi Hidaka. Through that season, he had played 285 games and gotten 463 plate appearances in Nippon Pro Baseball with a .189/.239/.249 batting line. He had 15 steals in 18 tries.