By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
Taisei Makihara will replace Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki on Japan’s World Baseball Classic roster.
Suzuki will miss the 2023 World Baseball Classic with an oblique strain suffered in spring training with the Cubs.
Makihara, who plays in Nippon Professional Baseball with the SoftBank Hawks, is a utility player with defensive prowess in both the infield and outfield, and hit .301 with six homers and 42 RBI, playing in a career-high 120 games in 2022.
“On the one hand, I’m looking forward to it, but for the most part, frankly, I’m anxious,” Makihara told Japanese news outlet The Mainichi. “It’s not like I’ll be able to replace Suzuki. I want to fulfill whatever role is handed to me.”
Last year, Suzuki hit .262 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI in 111 games in his first season since coming over from Japan. Suzuki played on the 2017 World Baseball Classic roster for Japan and also won the gold medal during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at Yokohama Stadium. Prior to the 2022 season, Suzuki signed a five-year deal worth $85 million with the Cubs, including a $5 million signing bonus.
Japan’s first game of the World Baseball Classic in Pool A is against China in the Tokyo Dome on March 9 at 5 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.