Monday, June 3, 2024

Craig Counsell Just Dropped the Best Possible News


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The Chicago Cubs have been scuffling as of late, but help is on the way and it’s coming a lot sooner than we thought. Prior to Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Cubs manager Craig Counsell dropped a huge bomb of awesome news, as both Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki could be back with the team as early as next week.

Bellinger has been on the injured list since April 24 a day after he collided with the outfield wall at Wrigley Field against the Houston Astros, while Seiya Suzuki has been sidelined with an oblique strain since getting injured against the Seattle Mariners on April 14. Both outfielders have been ramping up in the past week and now there’s enough confidence within the clubhouse that Bellinger and Suzuki will be playing soon.

At the time of his injury, Suzuki was one of the best hitters on the team, slashing .305/.368/.525, with 3 home runs, 13 RBI and 11 runs scored in 15 games. Meanwhile, Bellinger was getting hot at the plate after a sluggish start, getting injured after extending his hitting streak to 8 games. During that period, Bellinger had 3 home runs with a slash line of .333/.412/.700, in 34 plate appearances.

The Cubs are 5-5 since Bellinger joined Suzuki on the injured list and the offense has really taken a slide. In those 10 games, the Cubs have only scored 31 runs, an average of 3.1 runs per game. In 6 of those 10 games, the offense has been held to 3 runs or fewer. It’s actually been amazing that the Cubs are 5-5 during this stretch, but most of that credit goes to the starting pitching.

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You obviously don’t want either player to be rushed back just because the team is underperforming, so I hope that’s not happening here. However, ever since Bellinger was placed on the 10-day IL, he was almost immediately back on the field a few days later in Boston, playing catch and hitting. So, maybe that injury wasn’t as serious as it sounded. A reminder that apparently a CT scan found two fractured ribs in Bellinger.

As for Suzuki, he was not expected to miss as much time as he did in 2023, when he also had an oblique strain. Last year, the injury happened at the beginning of spring training action and the outfielder missed all of the games, so he needed just a bit more time to ramp back up. This time, around, Suzuki had a tentative timeline of about four weeks, so if he does return next week it would be just under that time frame.

There’s no doubt though, the Cubs are obviously a different team with Bellinger and Suzuki in the middle of the lineup, a much better team.

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