Nate Schierholtz emerged as a valuable trade chip last summer, hitting a career high 21 home runs for the Cubs. But the 30-year-old outfielder finds himself mired in a season-long slump, hitting just .197 with no home runs entering Sunday's series finale against Milwaukee.
Ryan Kalish got the start in right field on Sunday, with manager Rick Renteria hoping a few days off will help Schierholtz break out of his funk.
"He's been around a long time," Renteria said. "He knows himself. He had a very nice year last year in terms of home runs. I think those are things that happen through the course of a season. I don't think he's going to come out here and try to do the same things he did last year. I think he just wants to go out there, have good at-bats, put the barrel on the ball."
Renteria said he's seen better at-bats out of Schierholtz recently, despite just seven hits in 44 at-bats in May. He has eight walks and 11 strikeouts, which serves as encouraging after he had just two walks against 23 strikeouts in the season's first month.
Still, Schierholtz has a .159/.283/.227 slash line in May, so the results haven't been where the Cubs need them to be. He's due to hit free agency after this season and while he's the Cubs' only lineup regular over 30, his name may be thrown around as mid-season trade conversations heat up over the next few weeks.
But Schierholtz's early-season numbers haven't trended the right way. He's swinging and missing at more pitches and struggling against fastballs -- a pitch he mashed last year. If the Cubs want the option of moving Schierholtz for a potentially-valuable piece to the rebuild, he'll have to hit better.
Renteria, though, is confident Schierholtz will eventually pull out of his tailspin and get back to being the solid lineup piece he was a year ago.
"He understands he's doing everything he can to get out there and stay in the lineup," Renteria said. "The results haven't been what he wanted but he's actually looked a lot better."