The latest updates on Seiya Suzuki’s left oblique injury are not encouraging. The Cubs right fielder arrived at camp with about 20 pounds of extra muscle and the excitement to represent Japan at the World Baseball Classic in March. Expectations for his 2023 season were high.

Now he is sidelined for the foreseeable future and will miss the WBC.

“He’s worked really hard to take care of his body,” Cubs manager David Ross told reporters Monday. “Sometimes things happen. There’s some negativity in there, that’s for sure. You want everyone to stay healthy. And then if you want to turn it into a positive, we have a lot of games that don’t quite matter yet.” .”

As the team reported on Tuesday, there is also no “immediate timeline” for his return. Opening day is still a full month away, but it’s hard to imagine Suzuki will be ready.

With that in mind, the Cubs’ outfield picture becomes much less clear, though it may still present some intriguing options. Prior to Suzuki’s injury, it was easy to picture him on the right, newcomer Cody Bellinger at center and Ian Happ on the left. Now the Cubs will have to get creative in the short term to fill the void left by Suzuki.

One of the first options will probably be Trey Mancini. He signed with the Cubs in January on a two-year, $14 million deal. The team targeted him both because he could assist Eric Hosmer at first base and because he offered some defensive versatility. Mancini played nearly 250 innings in the outfield in 2022 (mostly in left field) and was a more defenseman.

Using Mancini this way will also force other players to move around a bit, especially since Hosmer will likely still be considered a platoon option at home plate. Patrick Wisdom will become more important, but he himself will have to stay healthy.

Assuming Suzuki isn’t ready for Opening Day — again, probably a likely scenario — the Cubs will have a roster spot if they want to bring in someone new. There are options there, but none are particularly intriguing. Both Mike Tauchman and Ben DeLuzio could fill in, but neither is a long-term solution.

The Cubs could also choose to give players like Christopher Morel more outside looks. He’s ultra versatile, but Morel was used primarily as an infielder during his rookie season last year. For what it’s worth, he’s played one game left and 50 games at center in 2022. As for right field, Morel has just 21 games under his belt at that location, and all of them were in 2021 when he was still in the minors.

The picture of Suzuki’s recovery will likely become clearer in the coming weeks, and with spring training games just getting started, it’s time for the Cubs to get the hang of it. They’re not going to go out and sign someone because Suzuki probably won’t miss a ton of time in the regular season.

Suzuki, entering his second season in the United States after signing a five-year, $85 million contract with the Cubs in 2022, is coming off an injury-plagued rookie season. He missed 50 games last year, mostly due to a left hand injury.

Suzuki is still a name to watch for the Cubs this season, but it looks like he’ll start his 2023 campaign later. In the meantime, Ross will have to plug and play in his absence.

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