Cubs staying vague, but it doesn't look good for Seiya Suzuki
Cubs manager David Ross was noncomittal on Tuesday morning when asked about the status of injured outfielder Seiya Suzuki, saying the team would 'put a plan in place and react to how he's feeling,' - but it's already very clear this is more than just a day-to-day thing.
Suzuki showed up to camp this year notably bulked up after adding 20+ pounds of muscle during the offseason in hopes of improving his stamina over the course of the 162-game grind. He was drawing rave reviews from coaches and onlookers alike, with a lot of folks noting that, despite the added muscle, his swing looked as pure and mechanically sound as it did during his rookie season.
Cubs will need to come up backup plan because of Seiya Suzuki injury
But this oblique strain has already cost him a chance to play for Team Japan in the WBC and, given the fact Tyler Glasnow, who has a similar injury this spring, is expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks, we need to start viewing this as something that will impact the Opening Day roster.
There's no doubt about it. A healthy, productive Suzuki is a major piece of the Cubs' plans in 2023. Without him, Ross will have to piece things together and we'll likely see what that might look like as Cactus League play wears on. He has other options in right, including Trey Mancini and Patrick Wisdom - the latter of whom was scratched again Tuesday with a lingering groin issue.
Christopher Morel and Nelson Velazquez could also be options, but it seems like Ross is definitely leaning more toward one of his two veterans. Of course, if Wisdom is getting regular reps in right field, that could open the door more fully for Nick Madrigal to split time with Edwin Rios at third base early in the year. This roster is incredibly versatile, but losing Suzuki is a huge blow for this team.
Last year, in a season full of learning and adjustments, the 28-year-old outfielder put up 2.0 bWAR and a .262/.336/.433 (116 OPS+) in 446 plate appearances. For now, it's wait-and-see when it comes to his return to the field but, for now, the Cubs need to start preparing to start the season without their right fielder.