Cubs: The jury is still out on Mike Olt

Cubs: The jury is still out on Mike Olt
April 20, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Tony Andracki

Can Mike Olt become part of The Core?

The 25-year-old third baseman was an untouchable player with the Texas Rangers organization, ranked among the Top 25 prospects in the game.

Now, he's just trying to find his rhythm with the Cubs.

Olt is in the lineup for the second straight game in Sunday's series finale after hitting his third home run of the season during the Cubs' win Saturday. It's just the third time this season he has started back-to-back games.

"We still want to see what he can do," manager Rick Renteria said before Sunday's game at Wrigley Field. "I think it's really important."

Olt, who came over in the Matt Garza deal with the Rangers last summer, is not the only one seeing inconsistent playing time. On a roster made up of a bunch of versatile, fringe players, it's been hard for guys to emerge as "must-start" options for Renteria besides Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Emilio Bonifacio (thanks to his hot start).

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"I've been trying, over time, with all the guys, to at least give them some days where they go back-to-back against a lefty and a righty. I think it gives them a better view, gets them a little more comfortable.

"The reality is, they're going to face lefties and righties, both the left-handed hitters and the right-handed hitters. And you've gotta give them an opportunity to use some games back-to-back to get them some kind of comfort."

Part of the reason Olt has been relegated to the bench in some games is the presence of veteran Luis Valbuena.

The 28-year-old infielder has provided solid defense at third base and despite a .226 average, carries a .400 on-base percentage. Olt, meanwhile, has drawn just one walk (compared to 10 strikeouts) and has already committed two errors while working through a right shoulder injury that hampered him this spring.

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Olt flashed his potential Saturday, homering in his first at-bat, before committing a fielding error that led to a Reds run, and then compounding the issue with a wild throw to first.

It's still early, but the Cubs are hoping Olt can emerge as a reliable option at third base, hitting in the middle of the order.