3/4/2014 6:23 P.M. ET
Olt starting to see things going well
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Last spring, Mike Olt struggled to bat .194. On Tuesday, he collected his first Cactus League home run in just his third at-bat and it wasn't a relief as much as affirmation that everything is going well.
Olt, hoping to find a spot on the Cubs' Opening Day roster, belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning of a 6-4 victory over the Athletics.
"I've been feeling good at the plate the last couple days and as long as I'm feeling comfortable, I think good things will come," Olt said.
The infielder was dealing with vision problems last year, although it took him awhile to figure that out.
"I usually start off a little slow," Olt said. "[Last year] I didn't start putting it together [that there was a problem] until I was probably 0-for-40 with 25, 30 [strikeouts], and that's when I started to put it together a little. I did notice a difference in Spring Training. When the season started and I got the adrenaline going, that's when I noticed [something was wrong]."
He went 6-for-31 in 19 spring games last year with the Rangers, including two home runs, and actually fanned only 12 times. It just felt like 30 K's. He was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he continued to struggle, batting .213. Texas included Olt as one of the four players in the deal to get Matt Garza from the Cubs.
Tuesday's home run was another step in Olt's comeback.
"It's really not me getting hits," he said. "It's about me seeing the ball well and that's my main goal in Spring Training. Obviously, you want hits and you want to perform, but the main goal in Spring Training is to get comfortable and it's definitely a noticeable difference just the way I feel right now, and that's what I'm happy about."
Yes, there's more to Jokisch than just a no-hitter
MESA, Ariz. -- Eric Jokisch is hoping the Cubs get to know more about the lefty than the fact that he threw a no-hitter last year.
In his first Cactus League start on Monday, Jokisch walked two over three hitless innings and struck out one. His only regret? That he walked Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.
"It felt good to have a lot of their big league players in there," Jokisch said. "I was a little upset to walk Braun. I wanted to see if I could get him out. I attacked the strike zone and kept him off balance and got a bunch of uncertain swings."
Jokisch, 24, was 11-13 with a 3.42 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) at Double-A Tennessee last year, including his no-no on Aug. 6 against Jacksonville. This is his first big league Spring Training.
"Any time I can go out there and prove that I can pitch and make pitches and get outs and eat up innings, that's what I'm here for and hopefully I can show them now that I can do that in the future," he said.
His teammates are well aware of his historic feat last August.
"That's kind of what I'm known as around here is the guy who threw the no-hitter, but I'm trying to be more than just that no-hitter," said Jokisch, who was an 11th-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Northwestern. "I'm trying to be a legitimate guy who they can use on the big league level."
On Tuesday, his Tennessee teammate, Kyle Hendricks, who was the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, started against the Athletics. Do the lefty and right-hander compare notes?
"We talk a lot about how to pitch certain guys and obviously, lefty, righty there's a little difference but we have similar stuff and like to go at hitters in similar ways," Jokisch said. "We talk a lot about how to pitch."
And also about what it's like in big league camp.
"We definitely watch what other guys are doing and try to learn some things from them and try to learn how to do things on and off the field," Jokisch said. "It's been a good experience so far and hope to stay here as long as possible."
• Cubs reliever James Russell has yet to appear in a game this spring. He said Tuesday it was because of his allergies but manager Rick Renteria said the lefty is going through a "dead arm" phase, which Russell has dealt with in the past.
Russell is coming off his second straight season in which he appeared in 70-plus games. Renteria wasn't worried about the lefty, who threw on the side Tuesday.
• Looking ahead, James McDonald will make his first Cactus League start on Friday against the Angels in one of the Cubs' split-squad games. Edwin Jackson will get his second spring start in Mesa against the Indians. McDonald gave up six runs on three hits against the Angels in his first outing last Friday.
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.