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Chicago Cubs put outfielder Seiya Suzuki on IL with oblique strain

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The Chicago Cubs have lost one of their top hitters. Outfielder Seiya Suzuki was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain, the team announced Monday. Fellow outfielder Alexander Canario was called up in a corresponding move.

There was no obvious play in which Suzuki suffered the injury, though he did slow down and cross the first base bag gingerly while running out a ground ball Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Mariners. He stayed in to finish the game and did not get another at-bat.

The Cubs have not yet provided a timetable for Suzuki's return. He missed about six weeks and had to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic last year because of a left oblique strain. This injury is to his right oblique. Obliques are very delicate and even minor strains can require weeks to fully heal.

Suzuki, 29, has been one of the top hitters in the game early this season, slashing .305/.368/.525 (139 OPS+) with three home runs in 15 games. He has been on a rampage since a brief mental health break last August. Suzuki hit .356/.414/.672 with 11 home runs in his final 47 games after returning to the lineup last year.

Although the Cubs enter play Monday averaging 5.47 runs per game, fifth best in baseball, Suzuki and Michael Busch have done most of the heavy lifting. Suzuki's been great and Busch has a .327/.393/.694 (188 OPS+) line with five home runs, including one in each of his last four games. Those two have been a two-man army.

Dansby Swanson, with a 105 OPS+, is Chicago's only other regular position player producing at a league average rate in the early going. The Cubs are still waiting for Cody Bellinger (53 OPS+), Ian Happ (89 OPS+), Nico Hoerner (56 OPS+), Christopher Morel (90 OPS+), and others to pick it up at the plate.

Canario, 23, went 5 for 17 (.294) with a home run in six MLB games last season. He is hitting .269/.377/.481 with two home runs in 13 Triple-A games this year. The righty-hitting Canario could platoon with the lefty-hitting Mike Tauchman during Suzuki's absence.

The Cubs are 9-6 in the early days of the new season. They begin a three-game series in Arizona against the reigning National League champion Diamondbacks on Monday.

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