Cubs boast a far deeper lineup with Seiya Suzuki back in the mix
By Jake Misener
We may look back on April 14 three months from now without the date standing out for any particular reason - or we may look back on that day as the moment things changed in a big way for the Chicago Cubs.
The return of outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who made his 2023 regular season debut in the Cubs' 8-2 blowout of the Dodgers, could very well mark a turning point for the team, despite how early it is - just the 12th game of the year.
Cubs look like a different team with Seiya Suzuki back in the fold
Penciled into the cleanup spot for Chicago, Suzuki went just 1-for-5, leaving five men on base, but he also belted his first homer of the year during the team's three-run eighth inning that featured long balls from Ian Happ, Suzuki and Patrick Wisdom. That frame showed the potential this Cubs lineup has when fully healthy; that, paired with another dominant outing from Justin Steele proved to be a lethal combination for Los Angeles.
"“It gives us that extra length and pushes everybody down one spot. His at-bats are always really good and consistent. And for him to hit a homer tonight and start that way was really awesome. And really big for us.” "- Ian Happ on Seiya Suzuki
Not only will David Ross be able to fill out a lineup around a consistent top of the order featuring the likes of Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, Happ and Suzuki, but the return of Suzuki will allow Trey Mancini to shift back to primarily serving as the DH and giving Eric Hosmer a day off here and there at first. That opens up all kinds of possibilities around the diamond - while maintaining consistency at the top of the order.
Last season, Suzuki was solid in his rookie campaign, but felt he had more to offer than what he showed in a very up-and-down 2022 season. The 28-year-old outfielder spent the winter bulking up and getting stronger after dropping weight throughout last year and showed up to camp turning heads with his new physique.
Unfortunately, before his Cactus League slate could even begin, he suffered an oblique injury that cost him his entire spring training and kept him sidelined until this weekend. Obviously, one game won't determine the course of this Cubs team - but the end result in Suzuki's first game back certainly has us all thinking of what may lie ahead in 2023.