SoftBank's Makihara replaces Chicago Cubs' Suzuki in World Baseball Classic

Japanese professional baseball player Makihara Taisei of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks will replace major leaguer Suzuki Seiya to play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.

Japan's national team manager Kuriyama Hideki unveiled this on Wednesday.

The Chicago Cubs outfielder Suzuki complained of tightness in his left side during the team's training camp in Mesa, Arizona, in which he had participated since last month. He underwent medical examinations and decided to withdraw from Japan's roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Kuriyama said Suzuki must be frustrated and disappointed more than anyone else. Kuriyama said he apologized to Suzuki for the hardship he had to go through in gearing up to be ready for the WBC. The manager said he is praying for Suzuki to recover and play again soon.

The 30-year-old Makihara is known as a utility player with his defensive versatility in both infield and outfield.

Kuriyama described Makihara as a player with speed and capability to make good judgment. He also said Makihara can be a key player for the team.

Makihara will play in the WBC for the first time. The World Baseball Classic is due to start on March 8th with 20 teams competing.