ST. LOUIS -- Trying to stay sharp while not playing is any baseball player’s challenge, so when guys like Chicago Cubs third baseman Mike Olt or reliever Wesley Wright do get into a game they have to make sure not to be too anxious. It’s not always easy.
“It’s a little difficult but it comes with the territory,” Olt said before Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. “You have to be ready to pinch hit, you have to be ready to play when you do play. I have more respect for the guys that do come off the bench and perform like that, for sure.”
Olt is starting his sixth game of the season as the Cubs play their 12th. Coming up through the minors he was used to playing every day so it’s been an adjustment. He’s hitting .174 with two home runs in 23 at-bats. He has yet to take a walk.
“I feel like I’m 0-2 every at-bat,” Olt stated. “Early on when I was pinch hitting I may have been pressing. Now I’m feeling better.”
Olt knows “pressing” can come from not starting a couple days in a row. Lefty pitcher Wright only wishes he could be sat down for just a couple of games. He hasn’t pitched in nine days going into Sunday’s contest. The Cubs have starters that have appeared in more games than the two Wright has seen.
“I try to do enough stuff before the game to stay as sharp as possible,” Wright said. “This is a game based on results. Excuses because of time off don’t get you anything.”
Manager Rick Renteria claims Wright’s inactivity is due to matchups and James Russell's familiarity with the National League.
“We’ve been mixing and matching with some of the other guys,” Renteria stated. “We gave Russell some of the situations we’ve had against Pittsburgh.”
But then the Cubs called up lefty Chris Rusin to pitch the last five innings of Saturday’s blowout win by the Cardinals before sending him right back down. Wright could have gotten into that one, but Renteria chose to stick with Rusin the whole way. That could be detrimental to Wright since nothing can replicate game action -- and he hasn’t see any in a while.
“I’ll be ready,” he said. “I have no choice.”