Seiya Suzuki’s health complicates outfield picture

Suzuki feels 'really good' in injury rehab originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Cubs are working to put together their roster for the 2023 season, but one of the big questions is how soon they’ll be able to get outfielder Seiya Suzuki back in the fold.

Suzuki, sidelined with an oblique injury that cost him an appearance for the World Baseball Classic-winning Japan squad, has been slowly working his way back into shape, and it seems as though he could be closer to returning than previously thought.

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According to reporters in Arizona, manager David Ross said Suzuki is “doing well,” and has progressed to hitting in a batting cage and doing some running work on the field.

“I feel really good,” Suzuki told reporters, including Patrick Mooney of the Athletic. “A lot more activities than before, and intensity-wise I’m kind of ramping it up.”

Since Suzuki hasn’t made it back into a spring training game yet, and with time running out before the team breaks camp next week, the question becomes this: who will make the team’s Opening Day roster if Suzuki is forced to spend time on the injured list?

We already know that Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger are penciled in as regular starters, but right field will in all likelihood end up being a patchwork situation with Suzuki out.


The Cubs sent Nelson Velazquez to Triple-A as part of a series of roster moves on Thursday, meaning that in all likelihood Mike Tauchman has earned a spot as a reserve outfielder on the big league club.

Patrick Wisdom has been getting time in right field, including during a start on Thursday, so he will probably split time with Tauchman and potentially with Trey Mancini, who also has experience in right field.

Christopher Morel, who has struck out 20 times in 42 at-bats this spring, could potentially earn a reprieve from a minor-league stint if Suzuki misses time with the oblique, but the Cubs could still lean toward sending him down if they instead choose to keep up an additional infielder, with Miles Mastrobuoni or Zach McKinstry likely filling that role.

Keeping one of those players up would allow the Cubs to platoon Wisdom and Tauchman in right field in Suzuki’s absence while giving them some lineup flexibility as they look to piece together an offensive attack.


The Cubs currently have 41 players on their active roster, and will need to trim that figure down to 26 before the start of the season. Teams can have a maximum of 13 pitchers, meaning that the Cubs will likely have 11 spots to split between their infield and outfield. 

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