‘I haven’t really played up to my expectations yet’: Can Seiya Suzuki get hot and help spark the Chicago Cubs offense?

20 July 2023

Seiya Suzuki’s behind-the-scenes work is the essence of where he hones his swing and timing, areas that have been out of whack for stretches this season.

Suzuki typically does not offer much insight when asked about the specifics of any mechanical adjustments he works on, though it doesn’t have anything to do with concerns about giving too much information to the opposing team.

“I just don’t like to talk too much,” Suzuki said through interpreter Toy Matsushita on Wednesday before the series finale against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field.

Suzuki’s pregame and postgame cage work is where the foundation of his in-game success is built. After Monday’s loss to the Nationals, that’s where he headed to get in additional late-night work in an effort to get on track. His four-hit game, including a home run, in Tuesday’s 17-3 blowout victory is the type of hitter the Cubs believe he can tap into more frequently than they’ve seen since he made his big-league debut last season.

“It starts in the cage and whatever I feel during practice, if I can put that out when I get into the game and get those results I feel really good and I feel like I’ll get more confident,” Suzuki said. “But even in certain games where I got a couple hits, I still wasn’t able to feel some satisfaction. But obviously I feel like I have some confidence now in what I’m trying to do.”

Suzuki followed his great game Tuesday with a first-inning single Wednesday off Nationals starter Trevor Williams. Suzuki’s pregame routine is usually tweaked to account for the type of starting pitcher he’s facing that day. If it’s a four-seam fastball dominant arm, he incorporates high-tee drill, or a sinker baller will cause him to focus on trying to stay inside the baseball and drive it to right-center in the cage.

Manager David Ross has seen Suzuki learning the value of coming to the ballpark and having a daily routine independent of whatever type of starter he’s facing that day.

“Being around Dansby (Swanson) and Happer (Ian Happ) and some of these guys that come in every single day and do what they do best and then form their plan of attack rather than adjusting to who’s on the mound,” Ross said Wednesday. “It creates the most consistency. That’s something he’s transitioning to as of late and that’s really going to help him.”

Suzuki’s offensive inconsistencies are emblematic of the team’s collective woes to get on a prolonged roll. At his best, like during May when he posted a .319/.417/.560 slash line, he can be a force in the middle of the order because of his plate discipline and ability to hit to all parts of the field. But when he has stretches as he did in June — .177/.247/.228 — Suzuki’s slump can be a dagger.

Suzuki doesn’t feel he is putting too much pressure on himself, but he also made clear he expects better production. He hopes something clicked for him Tuesday, crediting how well he was able to see the ball.

“I feel like I haven’t really played up to my expectations yet,” Suzuki said. “So I can’t really say that I’m playing really bad, I’ve just been really inconsistent.

“I’m going to keep going and try really hard to stay consistent and keep on performing.”


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