Mike Olt scratched, speculation turns to Kris Bryant

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs third baseman Mike Olt was scratched from the starting lineup against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night in order to give his bruised wrist another day to heal, the team announced before the game.

Olt was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning of Saturday’s contest against the Colorado Rockies but X-rays showed no break. He pinch-hit on Sunday, striking out before the Cubs rallied in the ninth inning to beat Colorado, 6-5.

With infielder Tommy La Stella also ailing with a sore “side” speculation has turned to top prospect Kris Bryant. Could he be called up from Triple-A Iowa if either La Stella or Olt needs a stint on the disabled list?

“Maybe,” team President Theo Epstein said Monday before the game. “We’ll see. We’ll just weigh all the factors.”

Bryant hit two home runs this past weekend for Triple-A Iowa after starting 1-for-8 over the first two games of a series against Memphis. He’s 5-for-16 with a walk and five strikeouts in four games this season.

“His performance last year and during spring training showed he’s really close and that we’re more likely to get him sooner rather than later but they just started,” Epstein said. “We’re trying to get him into a good rhythm down there. We’ll see.”

If the Cubs wait until at least Friday’s home game against the San Diego Padres to call Bryant up they’ll retain a seventh year of service time out of him. If he comes up before then he’ll be eligible to become a free agent after 2020 instead of 2021.

The Cubs have had a recent habit of debuting rookies on the road away from the media spotlight. Javier Baez broke into the big leagues last season in Colorado while Jorge Soler debuted in Cincinnati. After this weekend the Cubs start a seven game road trip beginning in Pittsburgh. One more factor to consider is an end-of-season tie for the playoffs. That would extend the regular season up to several days adding service time to Bryant potentially giving him a full year if he comes up this Friday. As slim as that possibility is -- combined with the trend of starting rookies on the road -- it makes his debut more likely to happen next week at the earliest.

“His development is an important factor as well as the needs of the big league team,” Epstein said.