Seiya Suzuki Injury Notes: Suzuki Speaks, Missing the WBC, "Moderate" Oblique Strains, Possible Return Timelines, Ross, More

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Seiya Suzuki Injury Notes: Suzuki Speaks, Missing the WBC, “Moderate” Oblique Strains, Possible Return Timelines, Ross, More

Chicago Cubs

The news we were dreading yesterday came to pass today, as the Chicago Cubs confirmed that Seiya Suzuki does indeed have a strained oblique. The timeline for his return is not specified yet, and we know only for sure that he will no longer be playing in the World Baseball Classic.

  • Let’s start there, as you can imagine the news that he was going to have to miss the WBC was very disappointing to Suzuki, who spoke with the media today:
  • David Ross is keeping things very unspecific as far as a timeline for return goes, and it’s understandable why:
  • I think the reason the timeline is vague at the moment is because oblique strains are among the more difficult injuries to pin down for a clear recovery time. You have to rest, initially, to get the inflammation to calm down naturally – how long that takes can vary wildly among humans! Because the risk of re-injury is pretty significant for this particular injury, even after the discomfort has subsided, you have to be incredibly careful in ramping back up activities. And furthermore, because the thing you’re building toward – playing baseball – is itself an incredibly rotational activity, requiring so much of your core, you have to be really, really sure that you’re OK before you go out there and swing or throw at 100%. You don’t want to risk re-injury, but you ALSO don’t want a guy out there being tentative. He needs to be confident that the injury is behind him.
  • The Cubs are, officially, dubbing this a “moderate” strain, though Ross initially called it a “minor” strain in his comments above. Suzuki, himself, seems not to have realized how bad it was initially:
  • Maybe that leaves you feeling a little more optimistic that this is not a super serious strain. However, although I am not going to put words in anyone’s mouth about an injury, I will say that you *USUALLY* see strains graded on a scale of one to three, with a two being labeled as “moderate.” These are often terms of art that have real meaning, rather than mere descriptions. So if the Cubs are saying this is a “moderate” strain, I will be mentally conceiving of it as a Grade 2 strain. Which is obviously worse than a merely “mild” strain (Grade 1).
  • In a coincidence of timing, Tyler Glasnow’s oblique strain was just diagnosed as a Grade 2:
  • This is not quite apples to apples, because you’re talking about a pitcher and a position player, and everyone heals differently. But if you were looking for a VERY GENERAL estimate on how long a “moderate”/Grade 2 oblique strain keeps baseball players out of action, there you go. It’s possible Suzuki is not even doing baseball activities yet, much less ready for games, by Opening Day. So that is to say, you should prepare yourself for Suzuki to return to game action many weeks into the regular season. It sucks. But these injuries suck. If it winds up shorter than that – which it could, because it’s a little unpredictable – you can just be pleasantly surprised.
  • Speaking of which, Tim Sheridan found a study – a little dated – that could offer some optimism:
  • It’s important to note that this study appears to have been for ANY severity of oblique strain, rather than just moderate strains. So a more mild strain, you would expect to come with an earlier return window, and that could be pulling down that “26 days” number. Again, I would not create for yourself an expectation that Suzuki will be back playing big league games in April, and certainly not by Opening Day.
  • One last quote from Suzuki, via his translator and the Tribune: “Last year’s finger injury was something I could play through. This one’s a little different. It’s kind of repetitive (motion) so I want to make sure I’m 100%.” I’m tucking this here at the end because I’m not sure what to make of it, but I figured you would want everything. Suzuki didn’t really play through the finger injury last year, as the Cubs rested him the next day, eventually putting him on the IL (backdating it), and then he didn’t return to game action for over a month. Best I can figure, Suzuki is referencing the fits and spurts where he kept TRYING to return to action during that monthlong absence (he would swing a bat, and still kinda feel it, the swelling would return, etc.), whereas with this injury he knows he just has to completely shut it down? Just a guess. And to be clear, yes, yes, completely shut it down for a while when it’s an oblique.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.