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Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki withdraws from World Baseball Classic

12 months agoAndy Martinez

Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki will miss the upcoming World Baseball Classic, withdrawing from the competition after suffering a left oblique strain. 

Suzuki was scheduled to represent Japan, one of the favorites in the international tournament, but was a late scratch ahead of Saturday’s Spring Training opener against the Giants. Suzuki underwent imaging and testing on Sunday and met with team doctors on Monday with the results. Manager David Ross and Suzuki are scheduled to speak to the media on Tuesday in Arizona.

The docs are looking at it today,” Ross said earlier in the day. “Some of our docs just flew in, yesterday being Sunday. So they’re gonna look at those today and hopefully we’ve got some answers by the end of the day.”

Suzuki arrived Stateside early this spring. In his first season in MLB in 2022, Suzuki underwent a shortened Spring Training due to the lockout and his signing with the Cubs came a few days after camp had begun. He wanted to maximize his preparation for both the 2023 season and the WBC, so he arrived to Cubs camp before pitchers and catchers reported and added 20 pounds of muscle this offseason. 

“It was actually one of my objectives to play at the WBC,” Suzuki said through interpreter Toy Matsushita on February 20. “This year there’s a lot of good players that are gonna be in the tournament. I talked to the manager for Team Japan and he gave some really good words and it really motivated me to start a little early this spring and play for Japan.” 

Now, he’ll spend the rest of Spring Training returning to full health and preparing for the regular season. Suzuki posted a 2.0 WAR in his first season in the big leagues, hit 14 home runs and posted a .770 OPS in 111 games while missing sometime in the middle of the season with a left ring finger sprain. 

Suzuki signed a five-year deal days after the lockout was lifted last season and the team hopes another season in the majors, seeing big-league pitching and adjusting to the life and culture in the United States will see him become a strong, middle-of-the-order type bat this season. 

“I fully understand what the flow of the day kinda goes by,” Suzuki said. “Like last year I didn’t really know how the team will work out. In terms of time management I think it was a little off last year. But this year I know what I wanna do and i know what I wanna work on.”

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