Seiya Suzuki has an oblique injury, is out of the World Baseball Classic and is likely to miss at least the first couple of weeks of the regular season, if not a bit more.
Much of the speculation surrounding his replacement in the lineup has centered around Trey Mancini, who has played right field previously, although he played just 11 games there last year.
With everyone healthy, it’s widely assumed that Mancini would mostly be a DH. That’s where he played most last year, 71 games as designated hitter. The Cubs’ outfield defense would likely take a hit with Mancini in right field.
In the recap to Tuesday’s game, I suggested that Nelson Velázquez might get an opportunity to play right field in Suzuki’s absence. But Velázquez likely makes the Opening Day roster anyway, as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
So who takes Suzuki’s spot on the Opening Day roster, if he can’t make it?
This might create an opening for Matt Mervis. If Mancini is playing right field, that would open some time at DH for Mervis.
In a small sample size this spring, Mervis is 2-for-8 with a double and four walks. He’s shown good strike zone judgment with the walks and doesn’t look overmatched, though that’s hard to determine for sure in spring games where he’s not necessarily facing top pitching.
There are other possibilities for a temporary replacement for Suzuki, including Brennen Davis, Christopher Morel and David Bote, though the latter would require a 40-man roster spot.
What do you think?