MESA, AZ – One of the Cubs’ most popular players won’t have the chance to compete on the global stage over the course of March.
The Cubs announced on Tuesday that outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who was slated to play for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic, will not be able to take part in the event due to an oblique strain.
The injury was described as “moderate” and a timetable for a return to the Cubs has yet to be set.
Suzuki was slated to play in his second World Baseball Classic with Japan, having played with the team in 2017 when the country finished third in the tournament. This year, it will be played between March 8-21 in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.
Signed before the 2022 season to a five-year, $85 million, Suzuki is getting ready to enter his second season with the Cubs. He was named the National League’s Rookie of the Month for April when he hit .279/.405/.529 with five doubles, four homers, and 14 RBI in 21 games.
After suffering a ring finger injury in late May, which cost him most of the month of June, Suzuki returned full for the second half of the season. He would end up playing in 111 games for the Cubs in 2022, posting a slash line of .262/.336/.433 with 22 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs, and 46 RBI.
This was preceded by a strong career in Japan for Suzuki in Nippon Professional Baseball with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from 2013 through 2021. He was a five-time Gold Glove winner and five-time NPB All-Star selection and won the batting title twice.
Suzuki is expected to be back in right field, the only field position he played in 2022, playing alongside free agent acquisition Cody Bellinger in center field and Ian Happ in left field. The Cubs open up the 2023 regular season on Thursday, March 30 against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.