Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’
* Justin Ruggiano and Anthony Rizzo combined for three runs, Albert Almora delivered a tie-breaking RBI single and Mike Olt smacked a two-run home run to lift the Cubs to a 6-3 victory Tuesday over the Athletics’ split-squad team. Ruggiano hit a RBI double in the first and a two-run homer in the third, driving in Rizzo both times, and Almora delivered a tie-breaking RBI single with one out in the eighth as the Cubs won for the second straight game.
Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 13-4 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, gave up one run on two hits and three walks over two innings in his first Cactus League start. The right-hander walked three batters in four of his 27 starts last season, and posted a 1.058 WHIP for the season.
* Last spring, Mike Olt struggled to bat .194. On Tuesday, he collected his first Cactus League home run in just his third at-bat and it wasn’t a relief as much as affirmation that everything is going well. Olt, hoping to find a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth.
“I’ve been feeling good at the plate the last couple days and as long as I’m feeling comfortable, I think good things will come,” Olt said.
The infielder was dealing with vision problems last year, although it took him while to figure that out. He went 6-for-31 in 19 spring games last year with the Rangers, including two home runs. He was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he continued to struggle, batting .213. Texas included Olt as one of the four players in the deal to get Matt Garza from the Cubs. Tuesday’s home run was another step in Olt’s comeback.
“It’s really not me getting hits,” he said. “It’s about me seeing the ball well and that’s my main goal in Spring Training. Obviously, you want hits and you want to perform but the main goal in Spring Training is to get comfortable and it’s definitely a noticeable difference just the way I feel right now, and that’s what I’m happy about.”
* Cubs reliever James Russell has yet to appear in a game this spring. He said Tuesday it was because of his allergies but manager Rick Renteria said the lefty is going through a “dead arm” phase, which Russell has dealt with in the past. Russell is coming off his second straight season in which he appeared in 70-plus games. Renteria wasn’t worried about the lefty, who threw on the side Tuesday.
* Looking ahead, Jeff Samardzija starts on Wednesday against the Rockies and will be followed by Chris Rusin. Travis Wood will go Thursday, and James McDonald will make his first Cactus League start on Friday against the Angels in one of the Cubs’ split squad games. Edwin Jackson will get his second spring start in Mesa against the Indians. McDonald gave up six runs on three hits against the Angels in his first outing last Friday.
* Samardzija on the addition of Ted Lilly to the Cubs front office: “I wouldn’t have had the success I did my rookie year without Teddy.”
– Carrie Muskat
Finally, Mike Olt will get on the field. Olt has been limited to the designated hitter role as he nurses a tender right shoulder. On Monday, he’s scheduled to start at first base for the Cubs in a makeup “B” game against the Angels in Tempe.
Olt has played more third than first, but playing first should limit stress on his throwing shoulder. He says the soreness is normal for Spring Training.
“It’s a little bit of a dead arm,” Olt said. “I was working it too hard to get ready.”
He much prefers playing than sitting.
“I’m not a huge fan of sitting on the bench and hitting,” Olt said. “It’ll be good to be back on the field and feel like you’re part of the game.”
The shoulder hasn’t affected his hitting in batting practice or the games so far. Eventually, he’ll get into a game at third. Olt is eager to show the Cubs he’s ready.
“If I am healthy, I do know I belong in the big leagues,” Olt said. “It’s not a matter of thinking about making the big leagues, it’s about going out there and doing my thing. Whatever happens, happens. When I do get the shot, I’ll be ready.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Darwin Barney has been working a lot with Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller and on Friday, the second baseman went 2-for-2 in his first spring game, hitting a solo home run in the fourth.
“I feel I can repeat what I’m doing up there and that’s the goal,” said Barney, who batted .208 last season. “It’s Day One and it’s a long spring ahead and a lot of work to be done.”
Barney isn’t being counted on to hit home runs — he matched his career high last season with seven.
“I’m trying to stay short and hit line drives,” he said. “My swing allowed me to do that and I’m happy about that. It’s early, it’s just one pitch. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
* Mike Olt, slowed this spring because of tenderness in his right shoulder, has yet to play third base and Cubs manager Rick Renteria said the team is taking a precautionary approach.
“He’s throwing fine and he’s been working at all the positions getting himself ready,” Renteria said Friday of Olt, who has been limited to designated hitter so far.
Olt, who battled vision problems last season, was scheduled to start at DH on Saturday night against the Diamondbacks.
* After more than 50 days without rain in the Phoenix area, Saturday’s forecast calls for showers. The Cubs’ contingency plan is to use the batting cages at their complex to get work done.
“We’ll deal with it as it comes,” Renteria said.
* Jake Arrieta continues to throw off flat ground and is making progress. Arrieta has been slowed this spring by tightness in his right shoulder, which he felt in the offseason before reporting to Arizona.
* Cubs fans eager to see top prospects Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant might want to go to Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Both are scheduled to start. Bryant hit his first spring homer in his first at-bat on Friday.
– Carrie Muskat
* Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the year in 2013, retired all eight batters he faced in Wednesday’s intrasquad game. The right-hander was a combined 13-4 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa combined last season.
“He’s probably put himself on everybody’s radar by the way he went about his business last year,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “It doesn’t hurt anybody to come out and do well.”
Justin Ruggiano, Welington Castillo and Christian Villanueva each hit solo home runs and Junior Lake hit a RBI single in the intrasquad game, which the “home” team won, 5-3. Jorge Soler walked, stole second and scored on Ryan Kalish’s single for the tie-breaking run in the fifth.
* Mike Olt did not play third base on Wednesday but was able to get an at-bat as the designated hitter, and drew a walk in the fifth. He said his right arm is a little tender, and the soreness is not unusual.
“It’s how it is every year,” Olt said. “It hasn’t bothered my swing.”
Acquired from the Rangers last July in the Matt Garza deal, Olt is a candidate for the Cubs’ third base job. He was scheduled to be the designated hitter on Thursday in the Cubs’ Cactus League opener.
* Second baseman Darwin Barney has been working a lot with new hitting coach Bill Mueller in hopes of getting back on track after batting .208 last season.
“We’re happy with where we’re at right now and feeling comfortable,” Barney said. “We feel we have a solid game plan, so we’ll keep continuing to move forward with that. I feel good to go. I feel mechanically sound. I feel like I’m getting results off the bat that I want and hopefully I can carry that forward.”
* Welington Castillo was the designated hitter on Wednesday in the intrasquad game in an effort to give him at-bats. Castillo had arthroscopic knee surgery in mid September and was slowed a little this spring because of his groin. So far, he’s passed all the tests.
“I think everybody is assured he’s completely healed and recovered,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Like anything, we need to make sure we’re giving him the load of work he needs to get him into the season and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Castillo showed his swing is just fine as he led off the fourth inning with a home run off lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.
* Arodys Vizcaino, who has not pitched since 2011 after needing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, threw one inning in the intrasquad game, and walked two and gave up one hit.
“I’m just hoping his health continues to not be an issue,” Renteria said. “His arm is live. [The ball] comes out of there pretty easy. It looks like he’s using his secondary pitches in live [batting practice] the way he wants to. If he wants to bury a pitch he does it, if he wants to go off the corners he can.”
* Jake Arrieta is throwing from flat ground, and continuing to make progress this spring. Arrieta, who was projected for the Cubs starting rotation, was slowed because of tightness in his right shoulder.
* Matt Szczur made a great catch in left field in the intrasquad game Wednesday, but had a bloody right wrist to show for it. He didn’t let up just because it was intrasquad.
“There’s only one way to play,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
* Jason Hammel is feeling right at home in Cubs camp, even though he’s only been with the team for one week. The right-hander, who signed a free agent contract with the Cubs on Feb. 13, threw about 65 pitches in his first live batting practice session on Thursday.
“His live BP was pretty impressive the time I was over there,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who watched a little of Hammel’s workout. “He was obviously hitting the mitt and his command of the zone was down. He was very composed on the hill. He’s been around a while. He’s looking pretty good.”
Hammel, who was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter last year, said he was able to throw all of his pitches. Pitching coach Chris Bosio helped, too.
“[Bosio] gave me great tips today, giving me some things to work on,” Hammel said. “George Kottaras was my catcher today and we were right on the same page. Overall, the first few days, the week, it’s been great and good so far.”
* For Cubs third base prospect Mike Olt, his first few swings on Wednesday were perfect. Olt had struggled with vision problems, and finally got to face a pitcher instead of a coach throwing batting practice or a machine spewing balls.
“For my first at-bats in a long time, it’s the best I’ve ever felt in Spring Training,” said Olt, who faced right-hander Neil Ramirez. “I’m not even counting last year, but the year before that. I saw the ball really well.”
Acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, Olt batted .213 at Triple-A Round Rock last season but the Cubs feel they’ve corrected his vision issues. He’s now taking allergy medication, which has helped clear things up for him. Wednesday was his first test against a pitcher.
“I got in the box and I wasn’t sure if I was going to swing or not but I got in there and felt comfortable and saw the ball really well, took a couple swings and I feel like I’m ahead of schedule,” he said.
* Renteria has yet to name his Opening Day starter. Jeff Samardzija got the assignment last year.
* Jake Arrieta, slowed this spring after feeling some tightness in his right shoulder, still has yet to throw off a mound in Cubs camp. The right-hander was projected as the fourth starter but most likely will not be ready by Opening Day.
* Renteria isn’t wasting any time. Infielders, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo and second baseman Darwin Barney, were on the field early Thursday for extra work.
* If fans see extra players at the Cubs facility this week, it’s because there are about some Minor League players taking part in a mini-camp. Among those participating are top prospects third baseman Jeimer Candelario and outfielder Eloy Jimenez.
– Carrie Muskat
* Wednesday was the Cubs’ first full squad workout, which meant it was the first day of live batting practice. Nate Schierholtz got to face exactly who he needed in lefty Travis Wood. Schierholtz is hoping he can convince Cubs manager Rick Renteria to not platoon the outfielder against left-handed pitchers. Last year, Schierholtz batted .262 against right-handers and hit .170 against lefties, part of the reason he had to share right field.
“That’s a huge goal of mine is to play every day and not necessarily platoon as much,” Schierholtz said Wednesday. “That’s one of my big goals this spring.”
* Renteria met with each player on Wednesday, and was impressed by shortstop Starlin Castro, who is coming off a tough year in which he batted a career-low .245.
“He’s very excited,” Renteria said of Castro. “We liked the way he looked in our meeting. He was very happy. We just told him to be himself, expand on his skills and improve his approach at the plate. He spoke a bit more than we did. He has an idea of what he wants to do.”
* Even though Mike Olt’s primary position is third base, he was working out at first on Wednesday on the first day of workouts. The Cubs don’t have a backup first baseman, and top prospects Kris Bryant and Christian Villanueva were sharing third during the session.
* Kyuji Fujikawa, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, had a long toss session Wednesday, throwing from about 135 feet. He is making progress.
“As long as there is nothing that sets him back, he continues to move forward,” Renteria said.
* Somehow, Blake Parker was aligned with lefties Wesley Wright, James Russell, Tommy Hottovy, Tsuyoshi Wada and Zac Rosscup. Parker is the only right-hander in that group. Did he have to adjust to the southpaws?
“No — I just took my glove off and we did a strictly right-handed shake,” Wright said.
* Besides Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Rusin, Carlos Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks threw live BP sessions on Wednesday.
* Thursday’s workout in Cubs camp will start at the normal time, with stretching at 9:30 a.m. Arizona time.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs’ Jed Hoyer talked to reporters in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, the last day of the general manager meetings, and discussed a variety of topics. Here is a sample, courtesy of MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, who was covering the meetings.
Q: What are the Cubs looking for pitching-wise?
HOYER: “I felt like last year, we traded a couple of guys away, but I did feel like if we had a strength on that team, that was probably it. The starters’ ERA and rank in quality starts was pretty good. We’ve done a really good job. We’ve signed guys like [Paul] Maholm and [Scott] Feldman and they’ve come in and got better. We don’t sign those guys looking to trade them. I think we want to have that stability, but I feel that’s a strength of our team, that we can sign guys and they’ll come in and have success.
Q: With pitching, is the emphasis on quality or quantity?
HOYER: “You’re always looking for high quality starting pitching. Everyone wants the guy who can start Game 1 of a playoff series or stop a losing streak. You also know the attrition of a season, it gets ugly. When you don’t have enough depth, that’s when teams really feel the pinch of a lack of pitching. You’re always looking for both but certainly I feel like we’ve worked hard to increase the pitching depth in the system. Maybe that’s slightly less of a concern than it has been in the past.”
Q: What about third baseman Mike Olt?
HOYER: “Mentally, he’s doing well. I think with a prospect like him, this is a guy who was a top 20 prospect. He had a down year and I think in this business, if you try to buy guys at the high point of the market you’re not going to have a lot of success. You need to always be looking for guys that had a down year. Maybe there’s a reason behind it and you can hopefully bounce back. We liked where he was mentally at the end of the year. We’ve been in contact with him. I know he’s working hard on his conditioning. We just hope that he looks back at a long, successful career and 2013 is the nadir.”
Q: Have teams asked about outfielder Nate Schierholtz?
HOYER: “We were proud of Nate. He was a guy that was non-tendered that we signed. He liked our opportunity, he came in and a lot of people asked about him in-season. We chose to hold on to him. That interest remains, but give him a lot of credit. I think he proved to a lot of people that he is an everyday player. He did that through hard work.
Q: What would be a successful Cubs season?
HOYER: “I always define it the same way. You want to win, but I think where we are as an organization, you want to be closer to the World Series. Closer to that team that is a sustained winner that comes to Spring Training every year with a chance. I think if we’re a lot closer when we’re talking next year, wherever these meetings are, then it was a good season. If we move that forward, obviously you can never answer that question without talking about winning. You want to win in the big leagues. But we also want to move our timetable closer to being the organization that we want to be.”
Q: Will the Cubs’ top prospects get to the Majors in 2014?
HOYER: “There’s a chance. We also want to be patient. The last thing we want to do is short-circuit their careers or harm them long-term by rushing them. I think when they’re ready, we’ll bring them up. It’s nice that they’re a year closer. Hopefully next year at this time, they’re one year closer and in Wrigley pretty soon.”
– Carrie Muskat
Javier Baez may not be playing in the Arizona Fall League but he will make at least two trips to Mesa, Ariz., to work with Cubs hitting coordinator Anthony Iapoce and others. Baez, the top prospect on MLB.com’s list of Cubs’ 20 prospects, also will play some second and some third base, but do so “at the right time,” Theo Epstein said Friday.
Baez, who be honored on Saturday as the Minor League Player of the Year, was on the Mesa Solar Sox roster for the AFL but the Cubs decided the shortstop needed a break from a long season at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. He hit 37 home runs and totaled 111 RBIs in 130 games combined.
“What I really like about him is his insincts of the game,” Epstein said. “[It's impressive] for a high school kid to show up in pro ball … to show a feel for the game, a feel to be a winning player. On defense, he’s got a great internal clock, and he knows how fast the runner is at first, he knows what he needs to do, how quick his release has to be on his throw. He was born with it. He showed that in high school and has carried that over into pro ball.”
Jason McLeod, director of scouting and player development, said if Baez did have to move from shortstop, that he felt second would be an easier transition.
“I don’t think any of us envisioned he’d hit 37 home runs,” McLeod said of Baez. “There are very few 20 year olds who did what he did.”
Kyle Hendricks will be honored as the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year on Saturday as well in pre-game ceremonies. McLeod said the right-hander showed a strong ability to “dissect the plate” with his pitches. McLeod also was excited to see how C.J. Edwards, Corey Black and Pierce Johnson developed after strong seasons in the Minors.
As for third base, Kris Bryant, the team’s No. 1 pick in the June First-Year Player Draft, will play in the AFL. He will open next year in either Daytona or Tennessee. The Cubs have two other talented third baseman in Christian Villanueva and Jeimer Candelario. McLeod said Villanueva may be the best defensive third baseman in the organization. The Cubs also are eager to see what Mike Olt can do. He was acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, and will spend some time working out in Mesa.
– Carrie Muskat
Mike Olt went 4-for-4, hitting a double, a home run, and driving in two runs in Iowa’s 8-5 win over Memphis. Dave Sappelt, Brad Nelson and Tim Torres each had two hits. Alberto Cabrera picked up the win in relief of Casey Coleman, who gave up three runs over five innings.
Dae-Eun Rhee gave up two runs, none earned, over 6 1/3 innings in Tennessee’s 4-3 loss to Mobile. Justin Bour and Rubi Silva each hit home runs.
Corey Black gave up three runs, two earned, over five innings in Daytona’s 7-3 win over Tampa. Kris Bryant had two hits and two RBIs.
Tayler Scott gave up three runs over six innings in Kane County’s 5-3 win over Wisconsin. Oliver Zapata had two hits, including a double and a triple. Trevor Gretzky had two hits, including a triple.
Duane Underwood gave up one run over five innings in Boise’s 2-1 win over Hillsboro, which moved the Hawks into a first-place tie. Jacob Rogers had three hits and one RBIs.
Ryan Sweeney was 0-for-2 in a rehab outing in Mesa’s 4-2 win over the Angels. Rafael Dolis, sidelined all season with a strained right forearm, walked one and struck out one in one inning. Jesse Hodges had two hits, as did Alex Sanchez.