On Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs knocked off the Seattle Mariners 8-5 in Cactus League play. It took four Spring Training games and nine at-bats, but Seiya Suzuki got his first hit in America, and it was a big one. After striking out in five of his first eight at-bats, Suzuki turned on an inside pitch and sent a Marcos Gonzalez delivery high up over the left-center field wall for a two-run home run.
There wasn't much reason to get overly concerned with his slow Spring Training start. This is a massive transition for Suzuki as he works on getting acclimated to living in the United States, let alone playing professional baseball. As Elise Menaker points out in a tweet, Seiya made an adjustment from his first at-bat to his home run at-bat. The scary part is, it looked like he got under it a little bit, and still, it left the yard. How far will he hit the ball when he gets all of it?
Outside of Suzuki
As for the rest of the team, we saw several positives, including Clint Frazier, who hit his first home run in a Cubs uniform. This spring, Frazier is now 6-for-19 with one homer, four RBIs, and a .1.037 OPS.
Drew Smyly turned in a solid outing on the mound, tossing 2.2 innings while allowing only one run with four strikeouts and one walk. Not long after, we found out that Smyly has earned a rotation spot, according to manager David Ross.
Out of the bullpen, Jesse Chavez looks to be in midseason form. He pitched two hitless innings with zero runs, four strikeouts, and one walk.
All of the potential starting infielders had good games at the dish. Nick Madrigal, Nico Hoerner, Jonathan Villar, and Frank Schwindel combined to go 8-for-12 with four doubles, four RBIs, and five runs. In addition, Alfonso Rivas continued his hot ways, going 1-for-1 after entering as a pinch hitter. Rivas is hitting .368 with 1.057 OPS in Spring Training.
Seiya Suzuki is a lock to be the team's starting right fielder on opening day. Clint Frazier is making his best case to ensure he's in the lineup. Outside of those two, how does the rest of the outfield shake out? One would think Ian Happ will play every day, but he could start the year as the team's DH while still getting fully recovered from offseason right elbow surgery.
Happ and Michael Hermosillo put good swings on the ball, both just missing home runs on deep fly balls. Happ finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Hermosillo's lone plate appearance was a sac fly RBI.
Meanwhile, the game didn't go as well for a couple of other outfielders. Jason Heyward turned in an 0-for-3 effort with three strikeouts. Rafael Ortega entered the game as a pinch hitter and went 0-for-1 with a strikeout. Both players are in danger of missing the roster or losing significant playing time.
What's On Tap Next?
The Chicago Cubs are off on Thursday. Next up, they will take on the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers in split-squad action on Friday. Both games will start at 3:10 PM CDT. The game against the Brewers at American Family Fields of Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona, will be televised on Marquee Sports Network.
MLB.com lists Kyle Hendricks as the starter vs. the Dbacks and Keegan Thompson as the starter against the Brewers. Friday will mark Hendricks' final Spring Training start before Opening Day. The Cubs would like to see some positive signs from Hendricks as he's allowed two home runs and seven earned runs in seven innings pitched.