If Mancini replaces Suzuki in right field, do Cubs go with Mervis at DH?

Claimed off waivers last August from Cleveland, Franmil Reyes stepped right into the Cubs' lineup and appeared to solve the dilemma at designated hitter.

Over his first six games, Reyes sparked the Cubs' offense with 2 home runs and 5 RBI.

His star quickly faded.

In 69 September at-bats, Reyes batted .174, struck out 25 times and did not hit a homer. The Cubs released the mammoth 6-foot-5, 265-pounder at the end of the season, and Reyes is trying to catch on with the Royals this spring.

That's opened the DH door again, and the Cubs have plenty of options.

Signed to a two-year, $14 million contract in January, Trey Mancini looked like the primary designated hitter heading into spring training.

With Seiya Suzuki still recovering from an oblique injury and likely to open the season on the injured list, the Cubs need help in right field.

Mancini has played both corner outfield spots over his six-year career with the Orioles and Astros, and he's also an option at first base.

If he has to play right field until Suzuki is ready to go, that's fine with Mancini. So is left, first or DH.

"I told (manager David Ross), 'I don't care where I play at all. I like playing. Wherever you want me, I'm there,'" Mancini said. "That's going to be my role, moving around."

A solid hitter for five-plus seasons with the Orioles, Mancini was traded to the Astros last August and he slashed only .176/.258/.364 with 8 home runs and 22 RBI in 51 games.

Over the winter and into spring training, Mancini has been working on scaling back the pull in his swing while keeping his head still and mind clear.

"I'm definitely at my best when I'm sticking in the center of the field," he said. "When I'm gap to gap, not trying to pull the ball too much, that's where I've got to live. That's what I've really been trying to get back to."

If Mancini is playing right field, left or first base, there will be at-bats available at designated hitter - and Matt Mervis might get an opportunity.

Mervis was positioned to be the Cubs' starting first baseman this season before Mancini and Eric Hosmer arrived over the winter.

If he's on the roster coming out of spring training, the left-handed hitting Mervis has the potential to put a charge into the lineup.

In addition to hitting .309/.379/.606 in 137 games with high Class A South Bend, AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa last season, the 24-year-old Mervis led minor-league baseball with 119 RBI and tied for third with 36 home runs.

Mervis played for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic and was 1-for-13 with 5 strikeouts before returning to Cubs camp.

"It just shows that I still have a lot of work to do," Mervis told reporters in Mesa, Ariz. "I thought I had some good at-bats, but also didn't have great success. So it was a learning experience, for sure. I also realized that if I'm going to play every day at the big-league level like I want to, I have things I need to work on."

Chicago Cubs' Trey Mancini stands in the batters box during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Peoria, Ariz. Associated Press
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