When Dusty Baker managed the Cubs, he was fond of saying that fans and media were always "clamoring" for this or that player to play.
Nowadays, Rick Renteria manages the Cubs, and he heard some clamor direct from the bats of Mike Olt and Junior Lake, two young players trying to hit their way into the lineup.
Olt broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning Wednesday night with a towering home run into the left-field bleachers. Lake followed immediately by crushing a ball on a straight line onto Waveland Avenue.
Those blasts help the Cubs break open the game and power their way to a 7-5 victory on a good night to hit. The Pirates hit 5 home runs of their own. Fortunately for the Cubs, they were all solo shots.
The two right-handed hitters were in the lineup because the Pirates went with left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. The Cubs have balance right down the middle between left-and right-handed batters, so the next few weeks could get interesting for Renteria when he makes out his lineup cards.
No doubt he will find it a nice problem to have.
"It's a great problem to have," he said. "They're all stepping it up. They're all going out there and competing on a daily basis, not only against the opposition but also to show everybody what they can do."
Olt is hitting .158 with 2 homers. He seems to be taking the whole situation in stride. Both he and Lake may start Thursday afternoon's series finale.
"That's great," Olt said. "I'm going to be ready for every opportunity he gives me and definitely take off from there. It's out of my control. The way I look at it is I've got to be ready for when I do get in there and make sure I can get as much practicing in as I can and try and stay as fresh as I can."
The Cubs picked up 14 hits, with Emilio Bonificio (.500) getting 2 more and Anthony Rizzo tying a career high with 4.
It made a winner of starting pitcher Jason Hammel (2-0), who let it be known that Rizzo congratulated "me on my first NL win."
That's how loose things were after the game, since Hammel also pitched for Colorado.
"When the wind's howling out, you've got to keep the ball down. I made three mistakes today, and they all left the yard," Hammel said.
As for Renteria, he went to bed contemplating his lineup card for Thursday knowing that players such as Olt and Lake could get a jolt of confidence from games like Wednesday's.
"I'm hoping to start using them a little more back to back, vs. lefties and righties," the manager said. "I think we need to find out who they are, too. But it has nothing to do with doubting what they're capable of doing. … With them, we need to play them and find out who they are.
"I think confidence is a big key to anybody's development. That's why we try to make sure we have conversations with them every day. We talk to them and make sure they're lighthearted, make sure they're loose and make sure they know we believe in them and make sure they know they'll be getting into ballgames.
"When they do, you be ready to go out there and perform."