Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki is dealing with a moderate left oblique strain, per Patrick Mooney. The injury has caused him to withdraw from the 2023 World Baseball Classic, where he was going to represent his home nation of Japan. Suzuki will now focus on preparing for Opening Day with the Cubs.
Suzuki began his professional career playing for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. He was posted following the 2021 season and, after a brief pause during the 2022 MLB lockout, signed a five-year $85 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Suzuki played in 111 games his rookie season and hit .262 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs and 46 RBI with nine stolen bases.
Team Japan’s outfield takes a bit of a hit with Suzuki withdrawing. They still have Lars Nootbar from the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Boston Red Sox faithful will get their first look at Masataka Yoshida, who signed in the offseason. Despite Susuzki withdrawing, Japan still has the best odds of winning the 2023 World Baseball Classic at DraftKings Sportsbook installed at +300.
Suzuki was reportedly dealing with oblique soreness, and he was shocked when he learned how severe the injury was. MRI results for the injury haven’t been revealed, so we don’t know if there is genuine concern that he will miss Opening Day or any time to begin the regular season. If he does, newly signed Trey Mancini will likely man right field, opening up the DH position in the batting order. Christopher Morel or rookie Matt Mervis could take up the mantle to begin the season until Suzuki is ready.