5/13 Cubs patient with Olt
Mike Olt leads the Cubs and all National League rookies with eight home runs. He’s the 13th Cubs rookie in the last 82 seasons to belt that many by the All-Star break. And on Tuesday, he was not in the lineup.
Manager Rick Renteria explained he was going with matchups against the Cardinals, starting Luis Valbuena at third because he’s 5-for-14 against Adam Wainwright, and four of those hits are doubles. Olt has never faced the right-hander.
It’s all part of the development process for Olt, who has platooned with Valbuena this year, facing more left-handed pitchers than right-handers.
“We’re still mixing and matching and will continue to do so until we see where they’re all at,” Renteria said of his roster. “The way we balance it out, everybody’s getting at-bats, everybody’s playing. To this point, it’s advantageous to us to get them in the lineup at some point and letting them play.”
Olt may be providing some thump in the lineup but he’s only batting .187 and has 32 strikeouts in 91 at-bats. Renteria said there will be a day when Olt is getting regular playing time.
“We’re growing to that point,” Renteria said. “His confidence level continues to grow, and once we all feel satisfied with where he’s at, then we’ll make that determination and adjustment. Right now, we’re happy with everything he’s doing.”
Only a week ago, Renteria was being asked if they were considering sending Olt to the Minor Leagues. Then, he homered in three straight games, May 7-9, including a grand slam on May 8 against the White Sox. He now has belted four homers in his last six games.
“The fans want to see everybody succeed, they want them all to do well, and rightfully so,” Renteria said. “As we continue to move forward and these guys continue to develop who they are as players, their spots in the lineup continue to increase and obviously their performances hopefully reflect that they’re playing more and hopefully their production is good.”
Told that fans just want to see more home runs, Renteria laughed.
“Everybody likes the long ball,” he said.
— Carrie Muskat