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Catcher Derek Norris to start sharing playing time with Kurt Suzuki

The A’s called up catching prospect Derek Norris from Triple-A Sacramento, and the plan is for him to share playing time with longtime starter Kurt Suzuki. Norris, a 23-year-old who was one of the four players Oakland obtained from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade, is starting Thursday against the Dodgers in his major league debut. He is highly thought of within the A’s organization, and it raises speculation of what this move means for Suzuki’s long-term status with the team.

Suzuki’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors going back to the offseason. This situation is reminiscent of when Suzuki was brought up in June 2007 to learn from Jason Kendall. Kendall was dealt a month later to the Chicago Cubs. A’s manager Bob Melvin said this situation is different.

“Kendall left shortly after, and that’s not something we’re looking to do,” Melvin said of potentially trading Suzuki. “This is more about both of them co-existing — the guy who’s your catcher of present and the guy that potentially is your catcher of the future.” But Melvin also said of Norris: “Make no mistake, with (Norris) here, he’s gonna play some. They’re both going to play. It’s also going to give me an opportunity to rest Kurt a little bit more.”

Melvin was asked if he envisioned Suzuki and Norris in a 50-50 playing time split.

“Could be,” he said. “Kurt will catch tomorrow.”

Suzuki, 28, — in the third year of a four-year $16.25 million contract — was very complimentary of Norris and said he will help the young prospect any way he can. Suzuki was asked if this situation reminded him of when he was promoted in 2007 and how it affected Kendall.

“A little bit,” he said. “Obviously Kendall was a lot older when I came up. I feel like I’m one of the better catchers in the game.”

The A’s sent down Josh Donaldson to make room for Norris. They also reinstated reliever Jordan Norberto from the disabled list and optioned Pedro Figueroa.

Today’s lineups:

A’s — Crisp CF, Weeks 2B, Cespedes DH, Gomes LF, Inge 3B, Moss 1B, Norris C, Cowgill RF, Pennington SS; Blackley LHP.

Dodgers — Gordon SS, Herrera LF, Ethier RF, Rivera 1B, Hairston Jr., 2B, De Jesus DH, Uribe 3B, Gwynn Jr., CF, Treanor C; Kershaw LHP.

Joe Stiglich