Mike Olt became a spring-training obsession for Cubs fans and the Chicago media wondering if he would answer those health questions, make the team and grab the third-base job.
But with Olt hitting .162 and stuck in a platoon situation, the backlash started before Tuesday’s rivalry game against the White Sox at Wrigley Field: Would the Cubs consider sending him to Triple-A Iowa?
“We’re still going to continue to monitor his time in games and see if we can continue to move him forward in some capacity,” manager Rick Renteria said. “But as far as moving him or doing anything like that – that’s not anything we’re thinking about or talking about.
“We’re going to continue to try to match him up and give him some of the best possible situations he can have and see if we can continue to gain some confidence.”
Olt had started at third base in 16 of the team’s first 30 games, struggling to get into a rhythm while showing some power (four home runs). He’s in a 2-for-23 skid across his last eight games and hasn’t homered in two weeks.
Olt dealt with a right shoulder issue throughout spring training. His throwing error led to an unearned run in Monday night’s 3-1 loss to the White Sox in 12 innings.
“He’s had some good at-bats and some bad at-bats over the last few weeks,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “I actually think he’s come along pretty well defensively. I know he made the error, but I think his throwing has certainly gotten better as his shoulder’s gotten stronger and he feels comfortable there.
“Now, hopefully, it’s a matter of stringing some hits together and getting back on track offensively.”
At the age of 25, the Cubs hope Olt has a long runway in front of him. The Texas Rangers named him their minor league player of the year in 2012, but made him available in last summer’s Matt Garza trade amid concerns about vision/concussion issues.
“Listen, I like what we see from him,” Hoyer said. “I just think right now he’s in a little bit of a slump and I think he’ll get through it."