An up-close perspective on Jered Weaver

If there's a hitter who has a grasp of Jered Weaver's growth into one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, it's Kurt Suzuki.

The two came into the Big West conference together in 2002, Suzuki at Cal State Fullerton and Weaver at Long Beach State. In Suzuki's junior season, he was the conference player of the year. Weaver was the best pitcher in the nation.

Suzuki's familiarity seems to have paid some dividends. He's one of the few AL hitters who seems comfortable against Weaver. In 35 at-bats, the Oakland A's catcher has 10 hits, including four doubles and a home run.

The first thing Suzuki said about Weaver is, "He's not someone you want to face right now." But in fact, Weaver might be less intimidating than he was back at Long Beach. His control wasn't as pinpoint then, his height made batters uncomfortable and he threw harder.

"In college, he could run it up there 95-96 if he wanted to, but the thing with him now is he’s not trying to throw as hard as he can," Suzuki said. "I think he’s gotten a better breaking ball, his changeup right now is one of the best. He’s learning how to put balls in places, pitch behind in counts and mix up his pitches really well. Every year, you see him pitch he’s getting better."