SAN FRANCISCO -- Nate Schierholtz sees encouraging signs with his swing.
The Cubs outfielder entered Monday's game against his former team, the Giants, batting .207 overall; one year ago on this date, he was batting .281.
"Early on, the first week or so, I wasn't having much luck finding holes, so I started tinkering and changing things," Schierholtz said Monday. "I got in my own head for a little bit. I feel a heck of a lot better now. I feel like it's behind me."
It wasn't that he had an epiphany talking to anyone.
"It's something I had to figure out on my own," he said. "You have a million different people telling you a bunch of different things; it doesn't really always solve the problem. It almost makes it worse sometimes. I'm just trying to get back to the basics and keep it simple."
The change paid off Monday with his first home run, a leadoff shot in the third in the Cubs' 8-4 win over the Giants.
Schierholtz was batting .250 against left-handed pitching, .195 against right-handers. Usually, those numbers are reversed for the left-handed hitter.
"I feel I have a better approach against lefties this year," he said. "When I came in this spring, it was one of my goals. I faced a lot of lefties in spring, and not many righties, so I ended up being comfortable against lefties right away. I feel good now. I'm not over-thinking anything."
Maybe that's the best way to approach the game.
Cubs activate Ruggiano, option Kalish to Triple-A
SAN FRANCISCO -- After missing all of last season and most of 2012 to undergo right shoulder surgery, Ryan Kalish knows he needs regular at-bats. He's now headed to Triple-A Iowa to do just that.
On Monday, the Cubs activated outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the 15-day disabled list and optioned Kalish to the Minor Leagues.
"I just know I need to play," Kalish said Monday. "I haven't played in so long, and playing time now has been a little sparse. It makes sense. I didn't expect to be here at this point. I'm ready to go get my playing time, work on my game and get back [as soon as possible]."
Kalish made the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career, but had made 20 starts in 39 games played for the Cubs. He was batting .242 with two doubles, three triples and four RBIs.
"I'm at a point where it's almost redevelopment that I have to do," Kalish said. "I'm going to go work on my game, and we'll see what happens. I'm confident I'll be back at some point."
Ruggiano, 32, has been on the disabled list since April 24, with a left hamstring strain sustained the day before in the ninth inning against the D-backs. In six injury rehabilitation games with Iowa beginning May 19, Ruggiano batted .143 (3-for-21) with a double, three walks and three runs scored.
Kalish, 26, is hoping he'll be back soon.
"I'm going to go down and earn it, that's the goal," he said.
Known for his bat, Baez also impressing with glove
SAN FRANCISCO -- Javier Baez is getting better, which is good news for Cubs fans who are eager to see the top-rated prospect.
Baez, 21, is batting .211 overall at Triple-A Iowa, but he's hitting .375 in his last 10 games, with four of his seven total home runs in that stretch. On Monday, he was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week. But what impresses Tim Cossins, the Cubs' Minor League field coordinator, is Baez's defense.
"Over the year I've seen him, his defense has been, in my opinion, the most overlooked part of his game," Cossins said Monday. "You'll see some error totals, but the improvement on the whole has been amazing. I'm pretty sure it'll continue. He looks confident and he's moving good and throwing the ball great and taking control in the middle of the field -- those are things everybody looks for. That's been exciting."
Baez's offense has been the focus, but Cossins sees improvement there, too. He was with the Triple-A Iowa team for the last five days, including Saturday, when the shortstop hit a grand slam.
"It's trending the right way," Cossins said of Baez's hitting. "His at-bats have been better. I've seen him in both phases -- I saw him the other day and saw the slow start earlier. He just looks like he's trusting himself a little bit more and getting pitches to hit and not missing them and laying off the stuff they're trying to get him to swing at. It's just like any other baseball player -- guys get going good and they lock it in. When he's locked in, it's different than when most people are locked in."
And what about the slam? Cossins smiled.
"Unbelievable," he said. "It's always fun to watch stuff like that. He's doing a great job. His approach to the game is good and his pregame work is really focused. I guess the best way to say it is he's maturing on all levels, and that's what everybody hopes to see."
• Kalish, optioned to Triple-A Iowa Monday, said he was looking forward to working with Manny Ramirez, hired on Sunday as a player-coach.
"He was an awesome guy to have around," Kalish said of Ramirez. "I'm sure now he's in a place where he wants to share his game and coach people. I'll listen. It's going to be awesome to hear what he has to say."
Did Kalish think Ramirez, 41, was ready for the bus rides in the Minor Leagues?
"There's something passionate about the game for him," Kalish said. "It'll be interesting to see what he's got going on."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.