Despite some impressive power numbers that have only grown lately, Mike Olt was not in the Cubs' starting lineup Tuesday night at St. Louis.
Of course, in this day of instant fan reaction on social media, that did not set well with many in the public. In fact, if you go on Twitter, there is even a hashtag called #FreeMikeOlt.
The lineup written by Cubs manager Rick Renteria initially paid off. He put Luis Valbuena at third base, and Valbuena singled in the first inning and hit a 2-run homer in the third to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals came back against Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta with a run in the third and then went ahead 3-2 in the sixth against the bullpen. The Cubs tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Emilio Bonifacio off St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal.
In the bottom of the 12th inning, pinch hitter Greg Garcia was hit by a Justin Grimm pitch with the bases loaded and one out, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 victory.
"The fans want to see everybody succeed; they want them all to do well, and rightfully so," Renteria told reporters at Busch Stadium before Tuesday's game. "As we continue to move forward and these guys continue to develop who they are as players, their spots in the lineup continue to and obviously their performances hopefully reflect that they're playing more and hopefully their production is good."
Olt entered Tuesday with some interesting numbers. His overall hitting line didn't look all that impressive at first glance: .187/.257/.462. He also had struck out 32 times in 91 plate appearances.
On the flip side, Olt led the Cubs in home runs with 8, having hit his eighth in Monday night's 17-5 victory over the Cardinals. If you look at a stat called isolated power (ISO), which is slugging percentage minus batting average, Olt checked in at .275. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify among National League leaders, his isolated power would have placed him fourth, behind Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and above Atlanta's Justin Upton.
No wonder a lot of fans want to see him play.
But in fairness to first-year manager Renteria, Olt had appeared in the previous eight Cubs games, starting seven.
Valbuena entered the night 5-for-14 with 4 doubles against Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright while Olt had not faced Wainwright. Olt did see action in the game, as a pinch hitter in the seventh, and he walked.
"We're still mixing and matching and will continue to do so until we see where they're all at," Renteria said. "The way we balance it out, everybody's getting at-bats, everybody's playing. To this point, it's advantageous to us to get them in the lineup at some point and letting them play."
However, Renteria did concede to reporters that even more regular playing time could be coming for Olt, whom the Cubs obtained last July from Texas in a trade that sent pitcher Matt Garza to the Rangers.
"We're growing to that point," Renteria said. "His confidence level continues to grow, and once we all feel satisfied with where he's at, then we'll make that determination and adjustment. Right now, we're happy with everything he's doing."