Don’t Count on a Seiya Suzuki Return By Opening Day
I wouldn’t call Jed Hoyer’s discussion of Seiya Suzuki’s oblique injury more negative than Suzuki’s own. I would just say it’s a little more realistic.
The Cubs President talked about the moderate oblique strain that’ll keep Suzuki out of the World Baseball Classic, and leave the outfielder shut down for a while. Although we heard that Suzuki might still be hopeful for Opening Day, it doesn’t sound like Hoyer sees that as likely.
“I think that [the general timeline for this kind of injury] certainly would put Opening Day in strong jeopardy,” Hoyer said, per Cubs.com. “We just want to make sure we get him completely healthy so when he does come back, he’s going to be ready to go and we’re not going to be concerned about it.”
In other words, with an injury like this, you have to make sure a guy is so completely 100% that he’s not out there worrying about his body when he’s at the plate trying to hit a 98 mph fastball. To say nothing of ensuring that he’s at no greater risk for a re-injury than he would’ve been before the initial injury. And moderate oblique strains generally take a lot longer than four weeks for a full recovery (plus there will then be the need to get back up to speed on game action).
Your optimistic case is probably more like six weeks before Suzuki is doing full baseball activities again, and then maybe a week-long rehab assignment (or longer, since he won’t have had a Spring Training to ramp up … sigh). You’d be looking at a season debut sometime in late April, though that’s just my extremely rough, and optimistic, estimate.
Hoyer said that Suzuki was really turning heads in camp, and you can’t assume his additional muscular bulk is necessarily to blame for the injury (though the Cubs will make sure he focuses on mobility during the rehab process). Usually, additional weight training reduces the risk of injury, not increases it. So we’ll probably never know what was the cause of the oblique injury, outside of the fact that sometimes it happens.
In the meantime, Suzuki will rest and once the inflammation and discomfort subsides, he and the Cubs will chart a rehab course. The goal will not be a return by Opening Day, though.
“I think a lot of bad decisions are made around Opening Day,” Hoyer said. “It’s one day on the calendar, but people rush back for it and we want to make sure that we are patient. If he makes it back for that, that’s great, but that’s not what we care about. We just care about getting him totally healthy.”