Cubs Insider

Suzuki puts 412-foot mark — and bow — on debut series

Cubs Insider

Seiya Suzuki was the last Cubs player available in the clubhouse to talk with media after Sunday’s loss to the Brewers, finally emerging after well over an hour working out in the weight room.

Lifting weights for an hour? After hitting a ball 412 feet for his first home run as a Cub?

Jeesh, how far does this guy plan to hit the ball next time?

Suzuki chuckled at the question and pantomimed almost sheepishly as he answered: “Just if it goes over the wall I’m happy,” he said through his interpreter.

Cubs fans were more than happy with his first-inning, three-run shot — especially those more than halfway up the left-center bleachers, where it landed.

“That was loud,” manager David Ross said. “A no-doubter.”

In fact, it’s hard to imagine the Cubs and Wrigley faithful being happier with the three-game series debut of their new $99.6-million right-fielder — not to mention Sunday’s debut of $71-million starter Marcus Stroman — despite the way the bullpen spoiled both efforts in a 5-4 loss Sunday.

“He can rake,” Stroman said of the guy who staked him to the 3-1 lead he handed off to the pen. “He’s someone who is gonna bring a little fear into opposing pitching staffs and someone who’s going to be a main dude in that top-three, top-four part of the lineup for years to come.”

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At least the next five years over the course of that contract.

Suzuki, who immediately charmed his manager and teammates with his engaging personality and sense of humor, became a Chicago fan favorite as quickly as he got to town a few days ago.

And at this rate he might be mayor by next season.

He’s 3-for-8 with four walks in his first three games, and joined Jorge Soler (2014), Starlin Castro (2010) and the legendary Larry Hoffman (1901) among the only players with six RBIs in their first three games with the Cubs.

And he did most of that against three of the best starting pitchers in the league: Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta.

And he’s not satisfied.

“I feel like I’m still trying to find the perfect balance in my at-bats and just trying out different things,” he said, “and I feel like I’m not quite there yet in terms of adjustments.”

One thing he has perfected beyond all expectations is his introduction — and budding relationship — with the fans.

Including the choreography he and third-base coach Willie Harris came up with for his home runs: A quick bow to each other as he rounds third.

“He said he it was kind of boring rounding third with no performance,” Suzuki said of the made-for-America gesture he never did during any of his All-Star seasons in Japan. “So the bowing just came with the conversation. It was something we wanted to do.”

Whether he’ll do it the rest of the season, he’s “still thinking” about it, Suzuki said.

He figures to at least have plenty of chances to consider and reconsider as the weather warms and the ball starts to fly more often at Wrigley.

One thing’s for sure: If this guy ever felt any pressure about being the big-money, big-shot signing for the big-market Cubs, he sure hasn’t let it show.

“I came to this stage to challenge myself and be able to face pitchers at that caliber,” he said after facing Burnes on Thursday — adding “I wasn’t actually really nervous going into the game.”

And now? After the big first series?

“Just the same.”

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