Chicago Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki, who is dealing with left oblique tightness, withdrew from Japan's roster for the World Baseball Classic.
The Cubs announced Monday night that Suzuki was officially out of the WBC. Cubs manager David Ross said Tuesday that the Suzuki suffered a "moderate" strain to his left oblique while swinging during batting practice over the weekend.
Imaging results were reviewed Sunday and Monday after Suzuki was a late scratch from the Cubs' lineup Saturday.
"It's really unfortunate that it had to come down to this decision," Suzuki said on Tuesday through an interpreter. "I know a lot of people were excited to see me out there playing."
Ross said there's still hope that the 28-year-old Suzuki can be ready for the Cubs' regular season opener against the Brewers on March 30. But he also said the team wouldn't rush his return.
"The goal for us is that when he's back, we don't lose him again," Ross said. "So pushing toward some date that we all look forward to doesn't make a lot of sense. We want him to get back completely healthy.
"If that's Opening Day -- great. If it's five days in -- great. If it's two weeks -- fine."
Suzuki, 28, hit .262 last season with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs in 111 games.
If Suzuki misses several weeks, the Cubs could use Trey Mancini and Patrick Wisdom in right field to open the 2023 season. Wisdom, primarily a third baseman, and Mancini could platoon depending on Ross' preference at designated hitter and first base.
Suzuki was on Japan's roster for the 2017 WBC and played on Japan's gold-medal team in the one-year delayed Tokyo Olympics. Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that Hanshin Tigers outfielder Koji Chikamoto is a possible replacement.
The World Baseball Classic opens March 8 and ends March 21. Japan opens March 9 at the Tokyo Dome against China.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.