Seiya Suzuki hammered the first pitch he saw Wednesday afternoon for a 419-foot homer to center that left the bat at 108.4 mph, later adding an infield single while playing the whole game in right for the Iowa Cubs. Power and speed, baby. It was likely his last tune-up before joining the big club in LA for their series against the Dodgers this weekend.
“It is in the plans to join the Cubs this weekend,” Suzuki told reporters via translator after the game.
The homer was his first in 13 at-bats over four games and the pair of hits pushed his average to .308 with the I-Cubs. That would hardly be considered an adequate sample had he just been starting out, but Suzuki put in plenty of work during the offseason and has been rehabbing his strained left oblique for quite a while now. Of course, being physically able to play at the MLB level isn’t the same as being fully prepared in every sense.
“I felt like I still have some necessary adjustments to make, so that’s what I’m going to do coming into these next couple of days and making sure that I’m always going to perform well when I get up there,” Suzuki explained.
Regardless of the extent to which he’s able to step in and perform right away, Suzuki’s activation is going to cost someone a roster spot. More than a few fans will probably point to Miles Mastrobuoni as the most expendable, but that overlooks the reality that Nelson Velázquez needs everyday at-bats and Mastrobuoni does not. Handedness also comes into play, though that should really be less of a concern considering the Cubs’ other two outfielders will bat lefty against righties.
The Cubs don’t need to make an official decision until Friday afternoon/evening, so it may be a while before we know anything for certain. Between the off day and the late start for the series opener, they’ll have plenty of time to evaluate Suzuki’s readiness and also confirm whether Dansby Swanson is indeed good to go. The shortstop removed himself from Tuesday’s game due to exhaustion and sat out Wednesday, but said he expects to be in the lineup when the Cubs return to action.
Getting Suzuki back at full strength makes the lineup more dynamic by adding a consistent power threat to a team that currently ranks 26th in MLB with just 10 homers. The Cubs are tied for 10th with 61 runs scored, however, making any additional pop that much more valuable. It’s getting to the point where you don’t even need to squint to see how the Cubs could make a little noise the rest of the way.