Chicago Sun-Times

Back from WBC, Mervis gets 3 hits

- Maddie Lee

MESA, Ariz. — Matt Mervis was the first to return to the Cubs’ springtrai­ning 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 atbats 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-for4 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. ✶

 ?? ERIC ESPADA/GETTY IMAGES ?? Cubs manager David Ross said playing in the World Baseball Classic for Team Israel was ‘‘a really cool experience’’ for Matt Mervis.
ERIC ESPADA/GETTY IMAGES Cubs manager David Ross said playing in the World Baseball Classic for Team Israel was ‘‘a really cool experience’’ for Matt Mervis.

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