Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki wins NL Player of the Week, turning heads to start MLB career

Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki didn’t know Major League Baseball had a player of the week award until he won it for his performance this past week.

“My motive is to be able to contribute to the team’s win, and I’m glad I’m able to do that,” Suzuki said through interpreter Toy Matsushita on Monday. “Hopefully I can continue this.”

Suzuki was named the National League Player of the week after posting a slash line of .412/.545/1.059 last week. In six games, he logged two doubles, three home runs, five RBI and five walks.

“I’ve been impressed,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It’s been pretty obvious. [Hitting to] all fields, taking the walks, playing good defense, solid on the bases, he seems to be a real steady player, confident within himself, having good at-bats.”

Suzuki, already a star in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, is quickly etching his name in the Cubs record books.

He hit the 10-RBI mark in 22 plate appearances, the fewest any Cub has needed to record the first 10 RBI of his career since it became an official stat in 1920, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Suzuki is the first Cub in nearly 80 years to hit safely in his first eight career MLB games with an at-bat (last achieved by Andy Pafko, 1943).

Suzuki enters play Monday leading the team in home runs (4), RBI (11), walks (9), on-base percentage (.543) and slugging percentage (.960).

At some point, with more data on Suzuki, pitchers will adjust their approach against him. But Suzuki said when it comes to preparation, he’s more focused on staying healthy.

He’s also already gone through a major adjustment, moving across the world to join MLB, and he’s flourished.

“There were a lot of high expectations, obviously,” Ross said. “That’s why we wanted him. And the fact that he’s come in and produced has been nice. This is the best pitching in the world, and you expect somebody to struggle just a little bit. Inevitably, every player does, but so far, the fact that he’s gotten off to such a good start, and he’s faced really good pitching has been impressive.”

Injury updates

Tuesday will be a notable day for injured Cubs players’ next steps. Right-hander Alec Mills (low back strain) is scheduled to throw live batting practice in Arizona.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder inflammation) is set to face live pitching in Arizona. He will remain at the extended spring training site to build up his at-bats and likely will need to go on a minor-league rehab assignment before returning from the IL.

In Chicago, lefty Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Tuesday.

Arrieta retires

Former Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta announced his retirement from playing baseball on Monday’s episode of the “Pardon My Take.” He added that he hadn’t yet signed the paperwork.

Arrieta won a World Series and the NL Cy Young with the Cubs. But in his most recent stint in Chicago, Arrieta posted a 6.88 ERA in 20 starts last season.

“I think when you look back,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said after the Cubs released Arrieta last August, “I think there’s a really good argument to say he’s one of the more influential people in the history of this franchise.”

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