Cubs prospect Matt Mervis taking WBC as learning experience: ‘I still have a lot of work to do’

Mervis went 3-for-4 in his first Cactus League game back from the World Baseball Classic.

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Cubs prospect Matt Mervis, representing Team Israel, flies out to centerfield during the first inning against the Dominican Republic at loanDepot park on March 14, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

Cubs prospect Matt Mervis, representing Team Israel, flies out to centerfield during the first inning against the Dominican Republic at loanDepot park on March 14, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

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MESA, Ariz. — Matt Mervis was the first to return to the Cubs’ spring-training camp with Israel eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.

“It was fun,” Mervis said Friday, his first day back. “It was obviously challenging. We played some of the best teams and some of the best players in the world. But, overall, I think it’s a really good experience for not only me, but Team Israel as a whole. I’m just honored to have had the opportunity to play for them.”

Finishing fourth in Pool D, Israel automatically qualified for the 2026 WBC. They were in a pool headlined by heavyweights Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

“The main thing with Matt is, he got a really cool experience,” manager David Ross said. “Playing in the WBC, playing against some really good competition, some of the best in the world, in that environment is really important. It’s an experience that you wish everybody could go through.

“We’ll let him get back here, have his at-bats and see where things fall. It’s nice to have him back in camp, I know that.”

Mervis, a first-base prospect, had a hit and a walk against Nicaragua in his first WBC game. But he went 0-for-10 the rest of the tournament.

“It shows that I still have a lot of work to do,” Mervis said. “I thought I had some good at-bats but also didn’t have great success. So it was a learning experience, for sure. And I got to work with some great coaches and other players. But I also realized that if I’m going to play every day at the big-league level like I want to, then I have things I need to work on.”

Mervis started at first base against the Dodgers in a split-squad game. He went 3-for-4 with a double.

Stroman pitching

Current and former Cubs left their mark on the WBC quarterfinal between Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Right-hander Marcus Stroman started for Puerto Rico. He retired the first four batters he faced before allowing a solo home run to former Cubs prospect Isaac Paredes. Stroman held Mexico to one run until the fifth inning, when he gave up a bases-loaded RBI single with one out. That concluded his outing.

Cubs outfielder Nelson Velazquez had Puerto Rico’s first hit, and, two batters later, former Cubs shortstop Javy Baez drove him in with a two-run homer.

Right-hander Javier Assad came in as a reliever and pitched 2‰ scoreless innings for Mexico, which beat Puerto Rico 5-4 to advance to the semifinals against Japan on Monday.

Suzuki progressing

Right fielder Seiya Suzuki (strained left oblique) threw again Friday, his third day of light baseball activities. He stretched out to about 90 feet.

“The main thing is he feels good, is in good spirits and putting the work in,” Ross said. “And he seems to be wanting to do a little bit more every single day.”

Suzuki also has been taking non-contact swings.

Ross said Suzuki is on track in his rehab program.

The Cubs haven’t announced a timeline for Suzuki’s return, but he’s expected to start the season on the injured list.

Dodgers 9, Cubs 7

Cubs 4, White Sox 4

• Right-hander Hayden Wesneski was charged with four runs against the Dodgers in 3⅓ innings. He faced the minimum through the first two innings but allowed a three-run home run in the fourth after giving up a walk and a single.

• Former Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward led off for the Dodgers. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI double.

• Against the White Sox, catcher Yan Gomes and first baseman Edwin Rios homered in back-to-back innings. It was Rios’ team-leading third home run this spring and Gomes’ second.

On deck: Cubs at Giants, 3:05 p.m. Saturday, Scottsdale, Marquee, 670-AM, Adrian Sampson vs. Anthony DeSclafani.

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