Besides at-bats, the only thing Mike Olt and his slumping bat could ask for is the good faith of Cubs brass.
Fortunately for Olt, the organization’s decision-makers appear unified in their belief that he can work through his issues with the big club.
Even though Olt didn’t play against the Pirates on Saturday night at Wrigley Field, the struggling rookie third baseman got a vote of confidence from manager Rick Renteria.
On Friday, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he has no plans to send Olt to Class AAA Iowa.
“He’s not backing down,” Epstein said. “He’s grinding his way through it. He’s shown the things that make him, potentially, a really good player with the insane raw power and his ability to, when he gets his pitch, hit it out of the ballpark.
“We think this is the right place for him, and he’s going to get a lot of at-bats against left-handed pitching.”
Olt’s woes serve to illustrate that the touted prospects in the system might not enjoy instant stardom when they reach the big leagues.
Olt is hitting .149. Even more alarming, he has struck out 65 times and has two hits in June. He has struck out in all but two games he has played this month, most recently fanning three times Friday.
Still, Olt is confident he can bounce back at any time, saying, “You go through stretches like this. Baseball’s a game of adjustments, and it’s all about learning from them.
“Early on in the season, I had a couple at-bats [in] a couple days [when] I felt terrible — and had one at-bat that got me going. So that’s the fun of baseball.”
But if Olt isn’t going to be in the lineup every day and struggles when he does get at-bats, what’s the point in keeping him with the big club?
Epstein cited the raw power that made Olt an attractive part of the package of prospects acquired from the Texas Rangers in the trade for pitcher Matt Garza last year.
Despite a terrible month, Olt still leads all National League rookies with 10 home runs and 25 RBI.
More important in the Cubs’ decision regarding Olt is that he seems unfazed by his problems.
“That’s a fine line,” Renteria said of what to do with a slumping young player. “There’s a balance. If you feel that someone is really starting to get emotionally taxed, those are things you have to consider. But he’s not anywhere near that. He’s still got a very good mindset. He’s still working very hard, and we’re going to continue to try to grind it through with him.”