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Cubs spring notes: Suzuki's debut is on its way

Ryan Avatar
March 23, 2022

MESA, Ariz. — David Ross knows something we don’t know, and he’s not letting it slip just yet.

The Cubs manager said on Tuesday that he’s got a pretty firm idea of when new outfielder Seiya Suzuki will make his spring training debut, but he is also still finalizing things and wants to wait until then before revealing what day it will be.

Suzuki has been taking batting practice, both in the cage and against live pitching, since his introductory press conference on Friday. And regardless of how ready Ross expected Suzuki to be when he got to Mesa, Arizona, Suzuki has already more than impressed his new manager in those sessions.

“He looked in great shape, worked out really hard,” Ross said. “I think he just likes to hit a lot. I think it’s just his personality. But yeah, the live BPs, it looks like his timing is getting ready. I think he’ll be ready to see some action here shortly.”

“Shortly” can mean different things to different people, but just because the speculation will spiral out of control anyway, there are a few days coming up that could be Suzuki’s debut day. Chicago plays at Sloan Park three times in its next five games: on Wednesday against the A’s, on Friday against the Rockies and on Sunday against the Royals. The Oakland game might be a bit too soon, but it’s realistic that Suzuki could get his first game action in a Cubs uniform in either of the weekend games.

Whether or not that indeed comes to fruition, Suzuki already made it clear when he spoke to the media on Friday after signing his five-year, $85 million deal: He’s more than ready to get his Cubs career started.

“Obviously, this is (my) first time experiencing spring training in this short period of time,” Suzuki said through his translator, Toy Matsushita. “(I’m) worried and also excited at the same time. Obviously, a new environment, so (I’m) just looking forward to what’s ahead of (me).”

Brault reports to Cubs camp after setback

It’s Aug. 29, 2016. Steven Brault is warming up for the third start of his major league career, getting set to face 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta at Wrigley Field.

Those bullpen mounds aren’t under the bleachers yet, either. Brault is instead warming up along the first-base line, not far away from where the seats in foul territory start. And those fans are letting him have it.

“Oh my god, dude. It was unbelievable,” Brault said. “I was like, ‘This is the place I want to go,’ because, you know, there’s the insults, but then there’s the creative insults, and Chicago fans really get that. I appreciate that kind of humor.”

Little did he know then that, after six years with the Pirates, Brault could find himself pitching at Wrigley again, but this time, in a Cubs uniform.

Last week, it was reported that Brault had reached an agreement on a one-year, major league deal with Chicago, but the day before his scheduled physical, he felt something in his tricep.

“It was just frustrating, I guess would be the No. 1 word,” Brault said Tuesday. “Still, I didn’t think it was anything that would take any time. I thought it was some inflammation or something. Obviously, MRIs came back differently in the physical.”

Despite the tricep issue, Brault arrived at Cubs camp Tuesday morning. Only for now, it’s as a non-roster invitee.

Brault already missed most of 2021, opening the season on the 60-day injured list with a left lat strain and not making his season debut on Aug. 4. His run lasted all of seven appearances as the lat issue landed him back on the shelf, at first being placed on the 10-day IL on Sept. 11 before being transferred to the 60-day list two days later.

He’s made it past that ailment, but his recent tricep issue will have him shut down for a few weeks, though he said he doesn’t that recovery to be “an ultra-long process.”

The other issue that cropped up this offseason was the fact that Brault could not connect with the Cubs sooner. He was designated for assignment by the Pirates just days before the lockout, and despite an interest in Chicago, he couldn’t talk to any team for the entire 99 days.

Lockout and tricep injury aside, Brault still managed to reach an agreement with the Cubs, and after his short shut-down period, he’ll get back to ramping up for the season. He does still have a minor league option left, but he’s hoping he’ll be able to break in with Chicago soon enough.

“I’m still glad to have been able to sign here,” said Brault, whose deal would include a $1.5 million salary plus other incentives if he makes the big league club this season. “Obviously, I wanted to be on the Major League side of things, but now, I’ve just got to make my way back up.”

Brennan Davis update

Cubs fans, you can breathe.

After Brennen Davis was hit by a pitch on his right knee and left Monday’s game with a right knee contusion, fans were certainly worried about Chicago’s top prospect. But Davis was back in the clubhouse on Tuesday, and Ross said x-rays on the 22-year-old’s knee cam back negative.

Ross also mentioned that Davis said he was already feeling better Tuesday morning and also a lot less sore than he thought he would be.

“It’s good to be young,” Ross quipped.

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