Chicago Cubs News: Seiya Suzuki and Brandon Hughes begin rehab assignment

Feb 20, 2023; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki (27) takes fielding practice
Feb 20, 2023; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki (27) takes fielding practice / Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs are inching closer to having starting right fielder Seiya Suzuki and left-handed relief pitcher Brandon Hughes return to the Major League team. Suzuki and Hughes were placed on the 10-day IL to begin the regular season and have each reached the point in their recovery where they are ready for a minor-league rehab assignment.

Suzuki and Hughes will be joining the Iowa Cubs for their respective rehab assignment and each is expected to participate in the I-Cubs game against St. Paul Saints.

The I-Cubs have a doubleheader on Saturday and it remains unclear whether or not Suzuki would start both games. Considering the Cubs have been adamant about wanting to ease Suzuki back, it seems likely that he will only be available for one of the two games that the I-Cubs have on Saturday. Hughes is also expected to pitch in one of the games as well.

Suzuki's return to the Cubs means that Miles Mastrobuoni can go back to his true role of being the team's super-utility player. This will be a more natural role for Mastrobuoni as playing every day in right field might have exposed a roster flaw for the Cubs. With Mastrobuoni being the only bench player on the Cubs' roster capable of playing shortstop and center field, chances are he will be safe once Suzuki returns, and Nick Madrigal will be the player optioned.

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Hughes' return to the bullpen will finally give the Cubs a left-handed option among their non-starting pitchers. Mark Leiter Jr made the roster in place of Hughe and it seems like the odd man out will either be him or Julian Merryweather. It has been a rocky start to the season for Merryweather as he has allowed 5 runs through his first 2 appearances this season.