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updated: 9/4/2014 6:55 PM

Olt eager to rejoin Cubs

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  • Mike Olt watches his two-run home run during a game against the Pirates in April. Olt finished up an injury rehab assignment by playing first base for the Kane County Cougars in Game 2 of their Midwest League playoff series against Wisconsin. On Friday, the Cubs will recall him to the major-league roster. Olt has been playing for the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa affiliate, where he was sent July 22 after struggling at the plate.

      Mike Olt watches his two-run home run during a game against the Pirates in April. Olt finished up an injury rehab assignment by playing first base for the Kane County Cougars in Game 2 of their Midwest League playoff series against Wisconsin. On Friday, the Cubs will recall him to the major-league roster. Olt has been playing for the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa affiliate, where he was sent July 22 after struggling at the plate.
    Associated Press

 
 

Mike Olt sounded eager Thursday to get back with the Cubs.

Olt finished up an injury rehab assignment by playing first base for the Kane County Cougars in Game 2 of their Midwest League playoff series against Wisconsin. On Friday, the Cubs will recall him to the major-league roster.

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Olt has been playing for the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa affiliate, where he was sent July 22 after struggling at the plate. In the first game of the playoff with the Cougars on Wednesday, Olt was 2-for-3 with a 3-run homer. He had been on Iowa's disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

"I'm excited," he said after finishing batting practice. "I want to end the year on a good note. Start fresh. I'm going to try to go in there with a whole-other-season (mindset). Just finish this month strong and build from what I learned this season and get strong and better for next year."

In 212 plate appearances with the Cubs, mainly as a third baseman, Olt had a line of .139/.222/.353 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI. He also had 84 strikeouts.

During the 2013 season in both the Texas Rangers' and Cubs' systems, he battled vision problems.

"I made some adjustments down in Triple-A," he said. "My body feels good. I feel like I'm going after pitches and doing damage to the ones up in the zone and not missing them like I was in the big leagues."

He said past problems had nothing to do with his struggles with the Cubs this year.

"I wasn't picking up the pitches well; it had nothing to do with my eyesight," he said. "I created a lot of bad habits with my swing. I had a huge leg kick, and my head was moving a lot. Going back to Triple-A, I started with the basics. I widened my stance up. I don't have a leg kick as much anymore. I've been more consistent figuring out if I'm on time or not. That was the big problem up there. I couldn't judge if I was on time with the pitcher until maybe the fourth pitch. By that time, you're 0-2."

Olt credited Iowa hitting coach Brian Harper with helping him get back to some basics. In 115 plate appearances with the I-Cubs, he went .302/.348/.585 with 7 homers, 24 RBI and 33 strikeouts.

"I think it was a good thing," he said. "I think they did the right thing sending me down. I'm not going to get discouraged over something like that. I'm just going to get better. I got down there and worked hard. Harper did a good job trying to go back to the basics and start small and building up."

Finding the winning way:

Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks made an interesting comment after Wednesday night's 6-2 victory over the Brewers. Hendricks came up from Iowa July 10 and has gone 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA.

He was asked about the attitude in the Cubs clubhouse in light of their recent winning ways.

"There's a lot of energy," he said. "When I first came up, it's not like there was a lack of energy, but it's almost like we're expecting to win more (now). Just having a lot of young guys in here, we're just all trying to play as best we can to kind of make our stand.

"At the same time, we won down in the minor leagues, so we kind of have that bred into us that we need to win and we want to win. Having that along with the good veteran we have around here, it's just been a good mix so far, and it's worked."

Kane County manager Mark Johnson said that's what the organization is trying to stress.

"Absolutely," he said. "We've been emphasizing the winning culture and coming to the field every day to get better and improve and to try to win ballgames. When you try to get better individually, defensively, mentally, physically, on and off the field, that's what we try to incorporate and hopefully it happens. It's been big point of emphasis with the Cubs and the Cubs way."

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