CHICAGO -- After taking over the team lead in home runs (four) and tying for RBIs (nine), Chicago Cubs third baseman Mike Olt might finally be given the chance to play more -- or at least he will Wednesday after helping the Cubs to a 9-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
"We talked about him gradually getting into that role," manager Rick Renteria said after the game. "Will I play him again tomorrow? Yes."
That's good news for fans of Olt who have seen him go to the bench too often this month even after hitting home runs. Not this time as he helped put the game out of reach with a three-run, opposite-field shot in a four-run fifth inning.
"Hitting is tough, especially if you do get sporadic at-bats," Olt said. "It is tough, but I definitely think it's made me a stronger hitter. I'm going to carry that into playing multiple games."
No one will know if the Cubs' strategy of platooning Olt to start the season was the right idea. The facts are he's hitting only .195, but his four home runs in 43 plate appearances are pretty impressive. It means he has hit a home run in 9.8 percent of his at-bats. Albert Pujols, who leads the majors in home runs, has hit them in 9.5 percent this season.
"Everything is very calculated," Renteria said. "I'm going to throw him out there and let him run with it a little bit. We're still measuring everything, we're trying to be guarded. He'll be in there tomorrow."
Before the game, Cubs president Theo Epstein addressed the playing time issue as well.
"There's nothing wrong with having a team that finds favorable matchups," Epstein said. "Oakland is one of the best teams in all of baseball and they do it to perfection. There's no ego involved, there's no complaining, there's no rhythm that needs to be found. You find very favorable matchups with your hitters against the opposing pitchers and you let those guys go to work. If we become that kind of team, great. If guys step forward and emerge and end up with every day at-bats then great. What we're looking for is production one way or the other."
What's missing there is the human element. Young players tend to press when trying to impress -- especially in those "sporadic" at-bats Olt mentioned. If he plays more it wouldn't be a shock to see him relax and begin to increase his batting average.
"I know a lot might be said of complete immersion, but we've been trying to graduate, make sure he's healthy," Renteria said. "And not only that when these guys sit on the bench they're learning a lot. It's not wasted time. It's actually very valuable time."
Maybe this will all be old news. Great hitters find their place in the lineup eventually, and Olt is knocking on the door for more at-bats. When informed he would be playing more, he took it in stride.
"That would be great," Olt said. "I definitely did a lot of work to get myself ready. I definitely feel like I'm ready for the task and build off the last couple of games and go from there."
He'll get that chance Wednesday -- and maybe beyond.