Suzuki takes highs with lows as rookie season nears end


As the end of his first big-league season nears, Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki is taking it all in.

Suzuki, the Cubs’ key offseason signing out of Japan, has gone through ups and downs this season while adjusting to the big leagues.

And while a strong finish over the next month would put a nice bow on his debut campaign, he also can take any lessons from this season into the winter to help set him up for success in 2023 and beyond.  

“It's not just finishing up the season strong,” Suzuki said Thursday through interpreter Toy Matsushita. “I want to make sure I don't get injured, but also failing, and then benefiting off of that. 

“I feel that connects to my play next year. I feel like a lot of things are really important until the end of the season from now. But I just want to take everything in and make sure it benefits me next year.”

Suzuki, who signed a five-year deal over the offseason, was the preseason favorite for National League Rookie of the Year and had a strong April, batting .279/.405/.529 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. It earned him NL Rookie of the Month honors.

His production slowed in May before he went down with a finger sprain, which sidelined him for all of June, and his production increased in July.

After a slow start to August, Suzuki has put together an extended stretch of success at the plate. Over his last 30 games, he’s hitting .297/.368/.468.

Thursday, he went 2-for-4 with a double and home run.

“I feel like he knows the zone really well and is attacking his strengths,” manager David Ross said. “Big home run right there off a really tough righty (Reds reliever Alexis Díaz). The guy has been pretty dominant against right-handed hitters. 

“It feels like he's starting to pull the ball a little bit more," Ross added of Suzuki. "The ball he hit to right center (the double), I thought just had real juice to it today.

"There's some intent in his swings. Looks like he's not feeling for anything. Looks like he’s really aggressive.”

The Cubs expected Suzuki would go through an adjustment period this season as he grew acclimated to big-league pitching.

As the season has gone on, he’s grown more comfortable.

“I feel like I’m getting used to the atmosphere,” Suzuki said. “I’m facing all these pitchers more than once, so I’m used to what their stuff is. 

“I also feel really good in the box. I feel like everything is coming together. There were ups and downs, obviously, at the start of the season. But I definitely feel better right now.”

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