The Power of Olt and Other Cubs News and Notes

Mike Olt had a rough start to his season. Olt hit .172/.222/.397 in 21 games in April with one double, four home runs and a .619 OPS. Olt struck out 21 times with four walks and looked rather lost at the plate. And defensively, Olt was inconsistent at best at third base.

After Friday night’s game, Mike Olt is hitting .294/.455/.824 in his last seven games with three home runs, four walks, six strikeouts and a 1.278 OPS. Olt has shown improvement in the field as the coaching staff continues to work with him on his fielding and decision making at third base.

The Sun-Times reported that Olt is a “threat for more playing time” in the wake of his recent surge. Olt went yard in three straight games and now leads all rookies in home runs (7) and RBI (17). Rick Renteria told the Sun-Times, the Cubs realize he could put up high strikeout numbers but Olt also barrels up the ball. Olt seems to be playing with more confidence with his first full month at the big league level behind him. Olt played in only 16 games for the Rangers in 2012, couple those games with the 29 he’s played in for the Cubs this season, and he’s appeared in just 45 games in the majors.

Mike Olt told Carrie Muskat prior to Wednesday’s game against the White Sox that he was going to try to relax at the plate. Olt thought he was putting too much pressure on himself and he planned to go back to having fun.

Jeff Samardzija

All eyes will be on Jeff Samardzija when he faces the Braves on Saturday night. Samardzija’s pitch count made headlines earlier in the week and his reaction to statements made by the front office about the number of pitches he threw against the Sox did nothing but fuel the rumor mill.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, “Samardzija took aim at Theo Epstein’s front office, exposing the behind-the-scenes tension as the Cubs prepare to eventually trade their Opening Day starter this summer.” Samardzija told Comcast SportsNet, “This is an on-field issue for uniform personnel. That’s all there is to it. I’m a grown man. I’m 29. I’m not a prospect or 22. I feel good. I think I’m grown up enough and responsible enough to understand when I can go and when I can’t go. I’m going to go off of that. I’ve earned my right in athletics to be able to understand my body and where I’m at.”

Jed Hoyer addressed ‘Pitch Count-gate’ on Thursday. Hoyer said he and Theo Epstein “agreed it was okay for Samardzija to throw 126 pitches” but “it’s not best for him to throw 120 pitches every start.” Hoyer told Mark Gonzales he felt the Samardzija pitch count is a “non-story” and he spoke with Rick Renteria about Samardzija after the game.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs’ front office called “Samardzija’s spirited defense of high pitch count a non-issue.”

Samardzija and the Cubs have not been able to work out a long term extension. Both sides have said publicly they would like to come to an agreement that would keep Samardzija in a Cubs uniform for the foreseeable future. The two sides view Samardzija differently which has kept the Cubs and Samardzija from being able to find a middle ground on a contract.

News and Notes

RHP Joel Pineiro remains with the organization. Pineiro pitched in an extended Spring Training game on Friday. Pineiro signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in the spring (April 1) and was supposed to spend only 10 days in Mesa before he was added to the I-Cubs roster. No word from the team on when or if Pineiro will be ready to join the Iowa Cubs’ rotation.

Kris Bryant (0-for-4 with two strikeouts) went hitless Friday night for one of the few times this season.

Jorge Soler went 1-for-4 with a double on Friday night. Three of Soler’s four hits in three games have gone for two bases (double).

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne