Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’

3/6 Olt feels good this spring

Mike Olt’s two-run homer on Thursday was a good sign that all the work the Cubs third baseman is doing is paying off.

“It’s one of the best at-bats I’ve had in a while,” said Olt of a home run off a Barry Zito change-up in the second inning in the Cubs Cactus League opener.

Olt fell behind 0-2 in the count, and connected on a change-up. Last year, Olt said he might not have even swung at the pitch. The third baseman struggled to bat .160 in 89 games with the cubs, spending most of the second half at Triple-A Iowa.

“I feel like it’s night and day,” Olt said of his swing now compared to last season. “Last year, I said I felt my swing was there but secretly I knew in my head I was swinging at pitches I wasn’t supposed to. I’m feeling like I’m tracking the ball a lot better this year and a lot of the changes we’ve made to my swing are the reason why.”

He hasn’t had to address his eye sight, which was a hot topic last season as he returned from a concussion, or his arm, which slowed him in drills.

“It’s good to focus on baseball and I haven’t had that for a long time,” he said. “It’s a relief for me and helps me sleep at night.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/20 Extra bases

Some notes on the first day Cubs pitchers and catchers worked out:

* Jon Lester threw a side session, and naturally, David Ross was his catcher, as he was with the Red Sox. Lester said he can tell the Cubs are hungry to win.

“You can see they want it, they want to win,” Lester said. “Now it’s just a matter of getting our work in and trying to do that.”

He knows all about the angst of long-suffering Cubs fans. Remember, Lester pitched for the Red Sox. His goal is to be prepared, and if he is, he can handle anything. And he’s not thinking about the contract, which was the largest in Cubs history.

“My contract doesn’t justify me or represent me,” Lester said. “I represent myself and how I go about my business. My competitiveness doesn’t change because I have x-amount of dollars in the bank. I want to win, you’ll hear that a lot. If I don’t win, we don’t win, and you probably really don’t want to be around me too much. I’m not real happy — you can talk to my wife about that.”

* Joe Maddon talked to the players for about half an hour before the first workout. He didn’t post a long list of rules. Maddon doesn’t care if players have long hair or how they wear their socks. He used to have long hair and said he was proud of it. He did admit he can’t grow a beard.

* MLB issued rules regarding the pace of the game in hopes to speed it up.

“I respect what the commissioner is attempting to do in Major League Baseball in general,” Maddon said. “I will just check [the rules] out, play good in the sandbox and make it work.”

* The Cubs have hired renowned sports psychologist Dr. Ken Ravizza as a consultant. Maddon has known him since the ’80s.

“Here’s the thing about sports psychologists that people get confused with — people see it as being a weakness,” Maddon said. “Right away, ‘This guy wants a sports psychologist, he must be weak.’ That’s the furthest thing from the truth. To me, it’s just another coach, another skill. We have hitting coaches, we have pitching coaches, we have infield coaches, we have coaches for everything. The mental skills coach really can help you develop a routine that causes you to step out of the batter’s box or get off the rubber or take that little extra moment in order to recapture the thought process and slow things down.”

* On Friday, Maddon donned his third different Major League uniform.

“Honestly, I was more comfortable than I thought I would be,” Maddon said.

* Who’s in the mix at third base? Mike Olt and Kris Bryant. There could be more.

“I’m really big into multiple positions,” Maddon said.

That means fans will likely see players moving around in camp.

— Carrie Muskat

2/16 Signs of spring

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Cubs coach Brandon Hyde throws BP to Mike Olt (standing) and Matt Szczur (in cage) on Monday at newly named Sloan Park. As you can see, the weather is perfect here in Arizona. The Cubs front office will have organizational meetings Tuesday and Wednesday as they prepare for Thursday, the first day pitchers and catchers are to report to Spring Training. There will be a workout Friday; the time/schedule is still to be determined.

— Carrie Muskat

2/13 Olt one of early arrivals in Cubs camp

Spring Training previews are running on Cubs.com. Here’s part of a feature on Mike Olt, one of the early birds in Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz.

Mike Olt knows most Cubs fans are expecting top prospect Kris Bryant to be the Opening Day third baseman. He just smiles.

“I’m just making sure I’m ready and making the adjustments I need and that I learned from last year,” Olt said after a workout in Mesa. “I took a lot out of last year. It took me a while to kind of get over a lot of negative things but when I started focusing on the positive things I did and the things I can improve on, which were slightly easy adjustments, I think it’ll help me.”

Olt was the Opening Day starter at third in 2014, and had a rough first season with the Cubs.

“I just lost confidence, and that’s the most important thing about baseball is confidence,” Olt said. “If you can get positive things out of the negatives, and build on that, you can get back on track, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

He was sent to the Minors in July, and called that experience “the best thing for me.” Credit Iowa hitting coach Brian Harper with getting Olt on track.

“The pitchers up in the big leagues are not different than the guys in the Minor Leagues,” Olt said. “[The big league pitchers] are able to execute their plan more. When they saw some holes in my swing, they were able to exploit it. It’s all about minimizing those holes. The only way to really minimize it is to simplify everything. I don’t need to generate any more power, I just need to focus on getting in a good hitting position and go from there.

“It’s not like I came back from the batters box last year and said I was over-matched at all, which is the positive I needed to take out of last year. I was never over-matched; I got myself out most of the time.”

Critical fans might disagree.

“If I was a fan, I’d think the same thing,” Olt said, laughing. “A big thing was confidence, and realizing you belong there. That’s the biggest part of being in the big leagues.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/3 Olt joins Kane County

Mike Olt has joined Class A Kane County, and was available for Wednesday’s playoff game vs. Wisconsin, and starting at third base. Olt joined the Cougars as part of his rehab assignment. He does not count towards the Cougars’ 25-man active roster limit. The Cougars also received catcher Tyler Alamo from the Cubs’ rookie level affiliate in Mesa, while catcher Victor Caratini has been placed on the disabled list.

The Cougars open the Midwest League Playoffs with a best-of-three first round playoff series at Wisconsin Wednesday. Game 2 will take place Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark and if necessary, Game 3 would also take place in Geneva on Friday evening at 6 p.m.

Olt has played in 72 games with the Cubs this season, most recently on July 22. Olt played with Triple-A Iowa from July 24-Aug. 19, batting .302 in 28 games before being placed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

The Cubs hope that Olt passes the tests with the Cougars, and can join the big league club to fill in at first for Anthony Rizzo.

8/27 Cubs Inbox

With the Cubs season winding down, it will be time to rev up the Cubs Inbox. Send questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com:

Q: How is Mike Olt doing in Triple-A? His stats look good. — James D., New Orleans

A: Right now, Olt is on Iowa’s disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. In 28 games with Iowa, he was batting .302 with nine doubles, seven home runs and 24 RBIs, striking out 33 times. His slash line is .302/.348/.585. Compare that to his numbers with the big league team: .139/.222/.353, when he hit 12 home runs in 72 games.

8/11 Minor matters – Sunday’s games

Mike Olt hit his third homer in two days and Elliot Soto hit his first since joining Triple-A Iowa in a 10-2 win over Oklahoma City. Eric Jokisch got the win, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings. Olt has 12 RBIs in his last six games, and is slugging .757 in August. Kris Bryant drove in a run and has 40.

Pierce Johnson gave up one hit over six innings in Tennessee’s 3-0 win over Mobile in the first game of a doubleheader. Johnson struck out eight. Addison Russell and Luis Flores each hit doubles. In the second game, Jae-Hoon Ha hit his fourth homer, a two-run shot, in a 9-8 loss. Russell did have two more hits, and has hit in five straight games.

Rock Shoulders hit his 12th home run, a solo shot in the fifth, in Daytona’s 4-3 win over Lakeland. Dan Vogelbach hit a walk-off RBI single in the 13th that was the difference.

Shawon Dunston hit a solo shot in the third, one of three hits for the game, in Kane County’s 7-4 win over Cedar Rapids.

Jesse Hodges homered to back Erick Leal in Boise’s 17-3 win over Salem-Keizer. It was Hodges’ sixth home run. The 17 runs were the most by the Hawks since a 17-5 win over Everettt on July 6, 2007.

8/10 Minor matters

Kris Bryant hit his 16th home run and Mike Olt belted two homers in Iowa’s 9-6 loss to Oklahoma City. Joe Sclafani hit a walk-off grand slam for the win. Bryant is batting .322 and now has 38 home runs this season.

Tennessee’s game vs. Mobile was postponed because of rain.

Rock Shoulders hit his 11th home run but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost, 3-1, to Lakeland. Shoulders is 5-for-9 with two homers, a double and two RBIs in his last three games.

Tyler Ihrig gave up three runs over six innings in Kane County’s 3-2 loss to Cedar Rapids. Jeffrey Baez had two doubles.

Dillon Maples gave up seven earned runs over 2 1/3 innings in Boise’s 16-3 loss to Salem-Keizer.

Mesa lost, 3-2, to the Angels. Andrew Ely, Adonis Paula and Erick Castillo each had two hits.

8/6 Minor matters – Tuesday’s games

Mike Olt hit a grand slam and Jorge Soler was a triple shy of the cycle in Iowa’s 7-4 win over Omaha. Olt went 2-for-4, and has hit safely in 10 straight games. Soler had three hits, including his fourth home run, and drove in three runs. He’s now batting .286. Kris Bryant had two hits and extended his hitting streak to nine games. He’s 12-for-30 in that stretch. Dan Straily picked up the win, giving up six hits over seven innings while striking out nine.

Tennessee had Tuesday off, and returns to action against Mobile on Wednesday.

Rob Zastryzny gave up one run over five innings but did not get a decision in Daytona’s 3-1 win over Clearwater. Daytona scored three runs in the top of the eighth. Billy McKinney had two RBIs.

In the first game of a doubleheader, Kane County lost, 4-1, to Peoria. Duane Underwood gave up two runs on two hits over two-thirds of an inning. In the second game, Kane County held Peoria to four hits in a 4-1 win. Ben Wells gave up one run over six innings and Jeffrey Baez hit a solo home run.

Boise is off for the All-Star break. Mark Zagunis hit a double for one of the South team’s four hits.

Mesa had the day off.

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

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