Seiya Suzuki was going to be one of five MLB players representing Japan in the World Baseball Classic, but on Monday he was a late scratch from the roster.
Suzuki suffered an oblique injury that will keep him out for spring training and the World Baseball Classic. Cubs manager David Ross said the injury is thought to be minor, but Suzuki’s timeline for return is unclear.
The outfielder hit .262/.336/.433 in his first season with the Cubs last year, alongside 14 home runs in 111 games. He would have joined MLB outfielders Lars Nootbaar and Masataka Yoshida on Japan’s team in the World Baseball Classic.
Suzuki has battled lower body injuries before, including stiffness in 2018. However, the only games he missed to injury in 2022 were because of a jammed ring finger he suffered sliding into a base.
Will Seiya Suzuki be ready for Opening Day?
While the World Baseball Classic is going to be a no-go for Suzuki, the question of Opening Day still lingers.
“It is a minor strain,” Ross said. “And I think it’s one of those things we’ll kind of put the plan in place, react to how he’s feeling, let him build back up, and the goal is to get him back when he’s fully healthy and can really contribute and help us. These oblique things are pretty tricky so we’ll make sure we’re listening to his body.”
David Ross provides an update on Seiya Suzuki. pic.twitter.com/QCjIJhNuDd— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) February 28, 2023
Suzuki himself was reportedly surprised to hear he wouldn’t be able to compete in the WBC.
Seiya Suzuki says he was shocked when he learned severity of his left oblique strain & that it meant he couldn’t play in World Baseball Classic.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) February 28, 2023
This is first time he’s had this injury in his baseball career. Suzuki says his oblique had been bothering him leading up to Saturday. pic.twitter.com/nlrAgbqJcl
It’s unlikely Suzuki will return by Opening Day, particular given the Cubs' seemingly conservative approach to his return.
Japan will have to name a replacement for Suzuki on its roster in the meantime.