The Cubs activated outfielder Seiya Suzuki from the 10-day IL this morning, the team announced. He had been out since late May with a finger injury. Outfielder Narciso Crook was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the active roster.
Suzuki’s return will come as a welcome relief to Cubs fans, who’ve watched their team slide well out of contention in his absence. The outfielder was the toast of the game in April, bursting onto the scene with a .279/.405/.529 triple-slash through his first 84 plate appearances before cooling off significantly in May. Heading into play today, his line sits at .245/.344/.432 for the season — hardly a poor debut but also nowhere near the heights of his first few weeks.
While it’s Crook’s roster spot that Suzuki is taking, it’s Nelson Velazquez whose playing time will likely be most affected. Manager David Ross had of late largely deployed an outfield rotation of Ian Happ, Rafael Ortega, Christopher Morel, and Velazquez, with Suzuki’s return likely pushing Velazquez into Crook’s bench role. Crook had logged a .250/.222/.375 batting line in nine trips to the plate.
While 2022 may be a lost cause for the Northsiders, the second half should at least provide the club with a chance to consider the longer-term outlook. As MLBTR’s TC Zencka noted yesterday, the Cubs have a number of players (Morel, Happ, Nick Madrigal) with some positional versatility but an unclear future. Suzuki’s future at Wrigley is relatively settled, but he’s hardly been the only Cub with injury issues. A comparatively healthy backside of the season could go a long way toward settling some questions for a team beginning to look ahead to 2023.