This actually happened a couple of days ago, but I wanted to weigh in on Seiya Suzuki’s decision to play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.
First, he has the support of his manager. Here’s what David Ross said
“I put myself in his shoes. I would have loved to play for Team USA. How cool is that? I would never want to take that away from anybody and always kind of push that experience. You should play if that’s where your heart is.”
Suzuki actually announced this on his Twitter feed on Wednesday:
報告遅くなりすいません！— 【公式】鈴木誠也（Seiya Suzuki）#27 (@suzuki_seiya_sb) December 8, 2022
I didn’t specifically remember him from back then, but that photo on the Sloan Park board was posted March 18, 2017, when the Cubs faced the Japanese team in a WBC exhibition game. Suzuki went 1-for-4 and here’s what I wrote about the game at the time. Overall in 2017, Suzuki played in five WBC games and went 3-for-14 with two walks. Of course, at the time he was 22 years old and had played in only one full NPB season. This time around, he’s likely to be one of Japan’s key players.
The important thing for Suzuki from a Cubs standpoint will be to get in as much of a “normal” Spring Training as possible. The Cubs begin spring play February 25 at Sloan Park against the Giants, and though there’s been no official announcement of player report dates, figure they’re about 10 days to two weeks before that.
Japan’s team in the WBC will play in Pool B, which will begin play March 9 in Tokyo. Two teams from that bracket will play in quarterfinal action in Tokyo March 15 and 16, and then the semifinals and finals will be in Miami March 19-20-21. You can see the entire schedule here.
So it’s possible that Suzuki will be away from the Cubs for a couple of weeks. He’ll certainly get enough game action over that time that I don’t think it will be a big deal for him to miss Cubs camp.
I’m a big fan of the WBC and we’ll be covering it in detail here. I hope to attend one of the preliminary round games at Chase Field in Phoenix. The Cubs will host Canada March 8 at Sloan Park for an exhibition game.
Looking forward to the WBC — and for a big year in blue pinstripes for Seiya Suzuki.