Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’
Mike Olt is scheduled to play his second straight game at third base on Sunday when the Cubs travel to Phoenix to play the Athletics. The Cubs could keep Olt on the 25-man roster if they feel he’s healthy. He’s been bothered by soreness in his right shoulder. Jason Hammel will get the start. Also on tap Sunday, Starlin Csatro will get more at-bats in the Minor League camp.
Here’s the lineup:
Edwin Jackson gets the start on Saturday when the Cubs play host to the Reds at Cubs Park in Mesa. Mike Olt, trying to lock up a spot on the Opening Day roster, will make his second start at third base. Luis Valbuena showed his power on Friday, hitting two home runs in a 7-0 win over the White Sox. We’ll get an update on Javier Baez, who bruised his right heel running to first base on Friday in Glendale. Also, Starlin Castro may get some at-bats in the Cubs’ Minor League games in Mesa. The Triple-A and Double-A teams are facing the Giants squads on Saturday.
The Cubs-Reds game will be on WGN-TV and WGN Radio. Here’s the lineup:
E. Jackson P
* If you’re coming to Saturday’s game, please take a moment to check out the Cubs Wives mystery baseball fundraiser in the left field corner, located inside the ballpark. For $30, fans can purchase an autographed baseball. You also can check out some game-used items to purchase. Proceeds go to Paz de Cristo in Mesa.
Jeff Samardzija continued his tune-up for Opening Day. He struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings Thursday in the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the Mariners. The right-hander felt much better than he did in his previous outing when he was charged with four runs on seven hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings. He made a few changes in his mechanics after a side session or two with pitching coach Chris Bosio.
“The more I pitch, the more I realize it’s little things,” Samardzija said. “You start overhauling stuff too much, you’ll find yourself constantly changing. Sometimes it just clicks, a lot of times it has to do with conditioning and your arm and when your arm strength comes around, you’re able to do more things than what you could do before. I thought we did a couple more things that kept me from flying open and kept me closed and kept the ball on the plate more.”
Samardzija got some help from left fielder Junior Lake, who robbed Logan Morrison of a home run with a perfectly timed leaping catch at the wall with one on in the sixth. Samardzija was then pulled. He’ll have one more Cactus League start before the regular season begins.
“We’re ready to get going,” Samardzija said. “Let’s finish these last few games up strong and keep everyone healthy and get this show on the road.”
* Mike Olt, slowed by a tender right shoulder this spring, made his first start at third for the Cubs and played seven innings. He did not appear to have any problems in the field.
“It felt great to be out there, I felt like I was part of the game,” Olt said. “I was a little rusty but I’m glad I wa able to get out there and really test it out.”
He would’ve liked to field a couple more ground balls but the Mariners somehow waited until he was out of the game. Backup Jonathan Mota handled back to back plays at third to open the Seattle eighth.
“That’s how it always works,” Olt said. “The ball will find you when you get in there.”
* Thursday’s game was played in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 15,243 at Cubs Park. The Cubs, who are averaging 13,909 in 11 dates at their new Spring Training ballpark, had set the previous attendance high of 15,191 on March 14 against the Dodgers. Thursday was the second crowd to top 15,000 at Cubs Park.
* On deck: Chris Rusin, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, will start Friday when the Cubs travel to Glendale to face the White Sox. Rusin looked sharp in his last outing against the Mets, giving up one hit over four innings and striking out two. Javier Baez, who shares the Cactus League lead in home runs with five, will start at shortstop, with Anthony Rizzo at first. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com.
– Carrie Muskat
Mike Olt makes his first start at third base on Thursday when the Cubs play host to the Mariners at Cubs Park in Mesa. Jeff Samardzija gets the start in his tune up for Opening Day. You can listen to a broadcast on Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup:
The Cubs have a night game Tuesday in Surprise against the Rangers. There are 13 games remaining in Spring Training. Is it crunch time?
“I think some people are slow Spring Training guys, and a lot of us are like, ‘OK, let’s get going,’ so they’re hitting their stride when the season starts,” Donnie Murphy said. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘crunch time.’ It’s more getting more hits, having more solid at-bats the closer you get to the season more than anything.”
What do the Cubs still have to do? Here’s a list:
1. Complete the rotation
Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel are set. James McDonald threw two pitches on Monday, and was pulled because of shoulder stiffness. That leaves Chris Rusin, who has looked really good, and Tsuyoshi Wada as options for the fifth spot. Carlos Villanueva also could step in if needed, although Rick Renteria says they like the right-hander more as a swing man. Villanueva will start Wednesday.
2. Finalize the bullpen spots
Jose Veras is set at closer. Who sets him up? James Russell should be fine after being slowed with a tired arm. The Cubs have to decide what to do with Jonathan Sanchez, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm and Blake Parker. Alberto Cabrera has given up one run on three hits in five innings over five games, and he’s out of options. The surprise this spring has been Arodys Vizcaino, who has served up two hits and one walk over three innings in three games. He’s throwing 98 mph.
3. Third base
Do the Cubs go with a combo of Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy, or do they give the job to Mike Olt? Olt has been unable to play third because of a tender right shoulder, but will get time there this week. He’s batting .241 with 11 strikeouts, but also shares the team lead with three home runs.
4. Figure out the bench
Junior Lake has struggled this spring. Is he ready for full work? Or is Ryan Kalish a better option for the outfield, even though he’s another left-handed bat. Chris Valaika can play anywhere but is batting .207 this spring. They like Emilio Bonifacio as a leadoff option.
5. Enjoy the kid
Javier Baez started at second base on Monday, and the Cubs want him to play third base as well before Cactus League games finish. The front office has repeated over and over that Baez will open as Iowa’s shortstop. These last two weeks will give Renteria and others one last look at their top prospect.
– Carrie Muskat
* Mike Olt was scratched on Monday from the Cubs’ game because of fatigue in his right shoulder.
“We’re just looking to keep him healthy for the rest of the spring and available,” manager Rick Renteria said.
* Starlin Castro is continuing to make progress from a hamstring injury suffered March 2. Castro can make up for lost time by getting at-bats in the Minor League camp.
“Starlin was looking real well, and looked good at the plate,” Renteria said. “I’m not too worried about Starlin. His demeanor is pretty positive, pretty upbeat. I think he’s trying to get himself ready for the season.”
* Casper Wells was sidelined with back spasms Monday. He’s day to day.
Ty Kelly hit a walkoff RBI single in the 10th to lift the Mariners to an 8-7 victory Wednesday night over the Cubs. Kelly connected off Marcus Hatley with two on and nobody out. Mike Olt went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs, and Javier Baez belted his third spring home run. John Baker drove in three runs with a double in the sixth.
* The Cubs have Thursday off, and return to Cactus League play on Friday when they play host to the Dodgers at Cubs Park in Mesa. Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, gets the start. This will be Hendricks’ third Cactus League start. In his last outing against the Brewers, he gave up two runs on three hits over three innings. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on Cubs.com
A sign of good things to come: Mike Olt hit two home runs and added an RBI single for the Cubs on Wednesday night against the Mariners. Olt said he made some adjustments in the cage the last few days and felt he had his timing back.
“Last year, I had a couple nights like this, but I felt almost like I got lucky last year,” he said. “This year is definitely a whole different feeling. I’m feeling way more comfortable at hte plate. It definitely does help me go forward and know I’m in the clear.”
His vision problems are in the past, and he just has to get his right shoulder strong enough to handle playing third base. When will he get in a game at third? Soon, Olt said.
– Carrie Muskat
* 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