Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’

7/23 Extra, extra bases

* With Mike Olt optioned to Triple-A Iowa, Luis Valbuena will get the majority of playing time at third base, manager Rick Renteria said. Valbuena made his 51st start at third on Wednesday; Olt had started 47 games at third.

* Olt will play first base and be the designated hitter while at Iowa. He was batting .139 in 72 games, but did lead all NL rookies with 12 home runs. He also has struck out 84 times in 187 at-bats.

“He acknowledged he’s gotten into a few bad habits at the plate, and bad habits that he couldn’t break out of at the big league level,” Theo Epstein said Wednesday. “I think playing every day down there will be good for him.”

* Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, struck out two of the three batters he faced Wednesday. Fujikawa, who had Tommy John surgery in June 2013, threw 14 pitches, nine for strikes, in his second outing with the team.

* Manny Ramirez, a player/coach at Triple-A Iowa, was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a right calf strain. Ramirez pinch-hit on Wednesday and was batting .176 (6-for-34) in 11 games with the Minor League team.

– Carrie Muskat

7/22 One more roster move

The Cubs announced Tuesday night that Mike Olt will be optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Tsuyoshi Wada. Olt was batting .139 with 12 home runs 84 strikeouts.

6/24 Play ball part II

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Here’s another photo of Mike Olt interacting with kids from the RIC during a softball fantasy camp.

Photos courtesy of Chicago Cubs

6/24 Play ball

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Cubs 3B Mike Olt played softball with some kids during the Chicago Rehabilitation Institute fantasy camp today.

6/9 Olt not worried

Mike Olt is stuck in an 0-for-16 skid, but it’s not that bad.

“I’ve had worse,” the Cubs rookie third baseman said Monday.

Olt was batting .153 for the season and has nine home runs. He’s the first Cubs rookie with nine homers before June 1 since Geovany Soto had nine through May 2008. Soto won the National League Rookie of the Year that season.

“Things are starting to come around,” Olt said. “All it takes is one thing to click, and next thing you know, you’re 30 for the next 60. I feel good.”

Luis Valbuena started at third base on Monday, and manager Rick Renteria has tried to put Olt in situations where he can have success. It’s just a matter of time, Olt said, before he finds that groove again.

“I’ve had stints where I feel like every at-bat I get a hit, and the next day, you wake up and something’s not there and you’re searching and you can’t find it for a couple weeks,” Olt said. “It’s all a matter of snapping out of it and finding something that works.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/20 Yankees mystique

When Mike Olt was growing up in New Haven, Conn., he found a way to get to Yankee Stadium. Olt, now third baseman for the Cubs, said they would go at least once a month to see the Yankees. A friend of his family was able to get front row seats.

“We’d skip school to go,” Olt said. “Whenever we could, we’d try to get down there.”

This started when he was 5 years old, so Olt, 25, has seen some pretty good baseball.

“I saw a lot of playoff games,” he said. “It was fun to watch.”

And now, Olt was starting against the Yankees on Tuesday at Wrigley Field. It’s a little surreal.

“You still have to pinch yourself when you’re playing guys like that, guys you’ve looked up to your whole career,” he said.

What is it about the Yankee pinstripes?

“Tradition,” he said. “It’s definitely similar to the Cubs, tons of tradition. The Yankees take a lot of pride in the way they play the game and l to of teams try to build like they do.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/18 Cubs 4, Brewers 2

Travis Wood settled down after a shaky first inning, rookie Mike Olt continued his hot home run pace, and Hector Rondon picked up his fifth save in as many chances to help the Cubs make a statement Sunday. Welington Castillo belted a two-run home run and Olt added his team-leading ninth blast to back Wood and lift the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the first-place Brewers.

“We were able to come through with big two-out hits,” Olt said. “That’s how you win ballgames.”

That, and having Wood recover from a first inning in which he walked the bases loaded with two outs. The lefty scattered two hits over seven innings to improve to 3-1 in five home starts with a 2.43 ERA. He’s now served up nine earned runs over 33 1/3 innings at Wrigley. The lefty is 1-3 with an 8.02 ERA in four road outings.

Wood walked the bases loaded in the first, then got Khris Davis to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

“It was a struggle in the first,” wood said. “We weren’t missing bad, but we were missing. It was a minor adjustment that we had to make.”

The trouble was that he was flying open in his mechanics, and once corrected, he shut down the Brewers. The lefty retired the next 10 batters he faced before Logan Schafer doubled with one out in the fifth. One out later, Rickie Weeks launched a 2-0 pitch from Wood over the bleachers in left-center field for his second home run.

“He didn’t make any mistakes really,” Weeks said of Wood. “The one mistake he made, I hit the ball out. Other than that, the cutter in, he was spotting it dead on under the hands. He was painting that little sinker away. You can’t do too much about that when a pitcher is going like that.”

The Cubs had the lead before Weeks’ blast, going ahead 2-0 in the second when Luis Valbuena walked to set up Castillo’s fifth home run, which landed in the first row of the left-field bleachers.

With two outs in the third, Starlin Castro and Valbuena hit back-to-back doubles to open a 3-0 lead. It’s an encouraging sign for the Cubs, who entered the game batting .190 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Olt made it 4-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, his ninth, which leads the team and all National League rookies.

Olt is the first Cubs rookie to hit nine home runs before June 1 since Geovany Soto did so in 2008. Soto won the NL Rookie of the Year that season.

“I’ve just gotten some good pitches to hit,” Olt said. “As long as I’m doing that, I’m happy. The home runs come in bunches. Hopefully, I can keep it going.”

Rondon survived a scare in the ninth, too. He gave up a double to Ryan Braun, but locked down his fifth save in as many opportunities.

“Like I’ve said, I’ll be ready for any situation,” Rondon said. “If they want to put me the second inning, third inning, whatever situation, I’ll take it.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/14 Cubs vs. Cardinals

Whatever Cubs starter Jason Hammel did to prepare for Wednesday’s game, he’ll just have to repeat. Wednesday’s game between the Cubs and Cardinals was postponed because of inclement weather and will be made up as a day-night doubleheader on Aug. 30 at Busch Stadium.

Hammel (4-1, 2.45 ERA), who was scheduled for Wednesday, now will go Thursday in the series finale at Busch Stadium against Michael Wacha (2-3, 2.85 ERA). Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija (0-3, 1.45 ERA) will get an extra day and start Friday at Wrigley Field against the Brewers.

The Cubs have another make-up doubleheader scheduled for July 8 against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Manager Rick Renteria had rookie Mike Olt in the lineup Wednesday, and most likely will stick with him on Thursday in the rain-shortened series finale. Renteria has been trying to find the right matchups for Olt, who leads all National League rookies with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. GM Jed Hoyer knows there’s some angst from Cubs fans when Olt isn’t in the lineup.

“I think Ricky has done a nice job with Mike,” Hoyer said Wednesday. “I get it — I think people are excited to see him and people love homers. It’s fun when he’s in the lineup.

“I want him to play, too, but I also think matching him up and finding the right matchups, you want to make sure there are days when [Luis] Valbuena is in the lineup,” Hoyer said. “There are days you really want [Darwin] Barney in the lineup because he’s our best defender. There are a lot of factors at play. Frankly, I think it’s helped Mike in the long haul adjusting to the big leagues and getting comfortable here.”

The Cubs’ third base platoon of Olt and Valbuena lead the National League with eight home runs and are tied for sixth with 24 RBIs. Hoyer said Valbuena is “underappreciated.”

“He’s got a low batting average but a really high on-base percentage,” Hoyer said of Valbuena, who has a .226/.351/.387 slash line. “Last year, I think we were among the top 10 in baseball in production at third base with valbuena and Donnie Murphy and [Cody] Ransom and those guys. The biggest part of the platoon was Valbuena.”

– Carrie Muskat

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

5/13 Cubs lineup

Luis Valbuena is 5-for-14 with four doubles vs. Adam Wainwright, and gets the start Tuesday for the Cubs in the second game of their four-game series against the Cardinals. Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio CF
Valbuena 3B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Lake LF
Barney 2B
Arrieta P

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