How Seiya Suzuki’s uncertain injury timeline affects the Cubs’ roster battles

The Cubs are giving their medical team more time to analyze the imaging done on Suzuki, but they said late Monday that he had withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic.

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The Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki throws long toss during a spring training workout.

Right fielder Seiya Suzuki’s left oblique injury, no matter its severity, will factor into Opening Day roster decisions.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Right fielder Seiya Suzuki’s injured left oblique, no matter its severity, will factor into the Cubs’ Opening Day roster decisions.

The Cubs are giving members of their medical team more time to analyze the imaging done on Suzuki before announcing his timeline to return, but they said late Monday that he had withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic. Team Japan begins pool play in a week and a half.

Even a pre-Opening Day return might not be certain. Before Suzuki officially withdrew from the WBC, manager David Ross earlier in the day declined to say whether the Cubs expected him back in time for the start of the regular season.

‘‘I would be answering other questions with answering that,’’ he said.

Injuries already are piling up for the Cubs. They’ve scratched a player in each of their first three days of spring games. First it was Suzuki on Saturday, then left-hander Justin Steele (arm fatigue) on Sunday.

Then Monday, before the Cubs played split-squad games against the Guardians at home and the Diamondbacks on the road, they announced they had pulled third baseman Patrick Wisdom from the lineup in Scottsdale with tightness in his left groin.

Steele is set to throw a bullpen session Tuesday and make his next start on schedule, and the Cubs characterized Wisdom’s ailment as something he would play through during the regular season. But with Suzuki out, the Cubs are having to think about contingencies in right field.

‘‘He looked really good,’’ Ross said, referring to the strength Suzuki added during the offseason. ‘‘He worked his tail off to take care of his body, and sometimes things happen. There is some negativity in that, for sure; you want everybody to stay healthy. And if you want to flip it to a positive, we’ve got a lot of games that don’t matter quite yet. And hopefully, whatever the timeline is, we’ll build him up in the right way to get him back on the field as soon as possible.’’

Assuming his groin tightness doesn’t linger, Wisdom can play right field. Trey Mancini joined the team expecting to play first base, outfield and designated hitter. Ross also mentioned non-roster invitee Mike Tauchman as an outfielder in the mix.

‘‘Those are the first guys that have come to my mind in how I’m reworking the schedules down the road for some people to play right in case Seiya can’t get back,’’ Ross said.

Suzuki’s health also adds a wrinkle to the bench battle. Even if he doesn’t start the season on the injured list, will the Cubs want to work in extra days off for him? Will that, in turn, provide a boost to versatile defenders who can play the outfield? The third-base battle is full of those types of players.

With the outfield starters otherwise set, how is Ross looking at a roster spot for a fourth outfielder? Would it be beneficial to carry a true center fielder such as non-roster invitee Ben DeLuzio, who also provides speed on the basepaths? Is having a variety of hitting profiles on the bench a priority for matchup purposes?

‘‘I view it as letting things play out and see who stands out,’’ Ross said.

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