Cubs Spring Training Notebook: Seiya Suzuki update, mentality shift in camp, plus WBC updates
MESA, Ariz. — Seiya Suzuki has taken the next step in his recovery from a left oblique strain.
The Japanese outfielder has begun playing catch and taking dry swings in the batting cages at the Cubs facility at Sloan Park.
“Just a little light catch, got the body moving, felt good and he’ll take some dry swings in the cage today and we’ll see how he feels,” manager David Ross said.
Suzuki will continue with playing catch and taking dry swings this week, with the potential to begin hitting off a tee near the end of the week if he’s progressing well. The 28-year-old has not had imaging done recently on the oblique, but that will be a possibility as he continues his rehabilitation.
It’s been nearly three weeks since Suzuki was scratched from the Cactus League opener against the Giants with the injury and just over two weeks since he was diagnosed with a “moderate” strain. The Cubs and Suzuki are still taking things slowly but know when they can start to progress in the rehabilitation.
“From my understanding, the trainers — we wanna continue to push the range of motion,” Ross said. “I have not asked him specifically if he feels anything yet still. But they would not progress him into light activity if they didn’t feel good about it.”
With Opening Day two weeks away, the mentality in camp has started to shift ever so slightly.
“I feel like this time of Spring Training everyone gets antsy to start playing for real,” lefty Drew Smyly said. “They want the games to start counting.”
Smyly showed that Thursday afternoon. In the Cubs’ 3-1 loss to the Diamondbacks, the veteran allowed a pair of runs on 3 hits, a walk and 4 strikeouts, but the outing was vintage Smyly. He induced 4 groundball outs and kept the Diamondbacks lineup in check with his cutter.
“I felt really good; was really excited with the results and how it’s coming out,” Smyly said. “The cutter’s the best it’s been all spring. I used it the most all spring. It was the most consistent it’s been.”
The 33-year-old felt that mentality shift in his outing, focusing on results and not as much on fiddling with some of his pitches and fine-tuning mechanics.
“You kinda have to quit tinkering with certain pitches or what not and just go try to win,” Smyly said. “That’s where my mindset’s at. Sometimes when you’re away from it for a while, you can lose that competitive edge. I think you have to talk yourself, even when it’s still spring, talk yourself back into — you gotta go get the hitter.”
- Marcus Stroman will start Puerto Rico’s quarterfinal game against Mexico on Friday night in Miami. Stroman started Puerto Rico’s opener against Nicaragua, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 4.2 innings of work in the 9-1 win.
- Matt Mervis was flying back from Miami to Phoenix after Israel was eliminated from the WBC. The lefty first base prospect was 1-for-13 with 5 strikeouts and a walk in Israel’s 4 games. Ross expected Mervis to return to camp Friday and potentially be in the lineup for one of Friday’s split-squad games.
- Ben DeLuzio, Miles Mastrobuoni and Italy were eliminated early Thursday morning by Japan in the quarterfinals of the tournament. Mastrobuoni was 5-for-18 with 2 doubles, an RBI and a stolen base, while DeLuzio was 2-for-16 with a triple.
- Canada was eliminated Thursday from the WBC after finishing 2-2 in pool play. Cubs prospect Owen Caissie was 3-for-13 with a home run and 4 RBI and minor leaguer Jared Young was 2-for-14 with a home run on Monday against the United States.
Jameson Taillon threw 5 innings in a minor league game at San Francisco on Thursday afternoon. He allowed 4 runs on 7 hits with 3 strikeouts while throwing 72 pitches. He was scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday, but it was canceled due to rain in the area.
The Cubs will have split-squad games Friday afternoon, hosting the Dodgers at 3:05 p.m. and traveling to Glendale to play the White Sox at 3:05 p.m. Hayden Wesneski will start the game against the Dodgers that will air on Marquee Sports Network. Righty Nick Neidert will start against the White Sox.