5/7/2014 12:42 A.M. ET
Olt trying to find way out of hitting slump
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Mike Olt is in a little bit of a hitting funk, and Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he will continue to try to find the best matchups for the rookie third baseman.
Olt entered Tuesday's game 2-for-23 in his last eight games. He was not starting against White Sox right-hander Hector Noesi. Olt is batting .200 (5-for-25) against left-handers and .140 (6-for-43) against right-handers.
"We'll continue to try to match him up and give him some of the best possible situations he can have and gain some confidence and move forward," Renteria said.
Olt batted .276 in Spring Training, and has been used in a platoon at third with left-handed-hitting Luis Valbuena.
"He was outstanding in Spring Training," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I think if you asked him, he's had some good at-bats and some bad at-bats over the last few weeks. I think he's come along pretty well defensively. His throwing has gotten better as his shoulder has gotten stronger.
"Now, hopefully, it's a matter of stringing some hits together and getting on track offensively," Hoyer said. "I like what we see from him. Right now, he's playing through a slump."
Samardzija winless but clearly the Cubs' ace
CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija threw a career-high 126 pitches over nine innings Monday night, and Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he may shorten the right-hander's next outing to avoid overworking his ace.
Samardzija, 29, stayed in the game that long because Renteria was trying to get him the win. Samardzija (0-3) finished the ninth, and left with the game tied at 1. The White Sox eventually won, 3-1, in 12 innings.
"I felt we needed to give him the opportunity to go and do it," Renteria said Tuesday. "Would I do it again? I couldn't tell you, quite frankly.
"His teammates really appreciated what they saw," Renteria said. "Everybody was very excited about it. I couldn't tell you if I'd do it again."
The reason for the push? Samardzija ranks second in the National League with a 1.62 ERA, is tied for second in innings pitched, and has posted quality starts in six of his seven outings. But he is winless.
Samardzija downplayed the high pitch count after the game and said he still felt strong.
"In general, you don't like to see a guy get up that high," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said of the pitch count. "It's a number, and we don't have enough knowledge to know at what number things turn into danger and when they don't. We've tried to focus on pitch stress in the Minor Leagues. It's a lot different to throw pitches with the bases loaded, it's a lot different to throw pitches in high-leverage spots."
The Cubs don't plan on having Samardzija throw 120-plus pitches on a regular basis.
"I don't think I have more concern about 126 in nine innings than I do about 94 pitches in 4 1/3 [innings] and you see that on a fairly regular basis," Hoyer said. "I don't think we have all the answers when it comes to pitch counts. I know Jeff was fantastic last night. He looked really strong late in the game."
Hoyer said he was impressed with Samardzija's two-seam pitch, calling it "unhittable." The pitcher seems unfazed by the lack of W's.
"Hopefully, he realizes you don't need wins in this day and age to be considered a top-of-the-rotation pitcher," Hoyer said. "The wins stat is a dangerous thing. People really focus on it as an assessment of your value. I think we've gotten past that. We've gotten past that when it comes to how we compensate pitchers. We've gotten past that in Cy Young voting with a guy like Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young.
"Certainly, I don't think there's anyone in baseball who looks at Jeff Samardzija and thinks he's not having a great year despite not having any wins," Hoyer said. "On a personal level, I feel for him. ... Anyone who pitches the way he did last night deserves a win."
The Cubs simply haven't scored many runs for Samardzija, who is tied for fifth in the NL with a 2.16 run support average.
"The way he continues to go out and pitch, I don't think he's worried at the end of the day who's going to get the win or the loss," Renteria said. "I think he's pitching for the Cubs and giving us a chance to win a ballgame. ... He has been stellar, absolutely stellar."
Reliever Strop to have MRI on left groin
CHICAGO -- Cubs reliever Pedro Strop, who had to come out of Tuesday night's game after facing five batters, will have an MRI on his left groin on Wednesday.
Strop said he injured his leg five days ago doing lunges in the gym.
He entered Tuesday's game against the White Sox in the ninth and served up an RBI double to Tyler Flowers and a two-run double to Jordan Danks. After throwing two pitches to Alejandro De Aza, Strop was checked by athletic trainer Ed Halbur, then pulled.
"I've been dealing with my groin since five days ago," Strop said. "It's been five days and it's still bothering me real bad and we're going to get an MRI tomorrow and see what's going on in there."
Strop was getting treatment in hopes of not having to go on the disabled list. The team won't know the extent of the injury until the right-hander is examined Wednesday.
"I don't want to go on the [disabled list], I want to help the team," Strop said.
He wanted to pitch on Tuesday.
"If I was right, maybe I could've made my pitches, execute better pitches," Strop said. "I couldn't throw my slider at all. Every time I rotated a little bit, it was bothering me. I was trying to get away with my sinkers, but they were right on it, knowing my slider wasn't working."
Cubs Care gives out more than $1.1 million in grants
CHICAGO -- The Cubs teamed up with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to announce more than $1.1 million in grants to non-profit organizations serving those in need in the Chicago area.
The grants were announced Tuesday at Wrigley Field. This is the 10th consecutive year more than $1 million has been donated to Chicago communities through Cubs Care, a McCormick Foundation Fund.
The 2014 grant recipients include Chicago Scholars, which provides college preparatory and persistence support to Cubs Scholars and Chicago's youth in need. A grant to the Chicago Parks Foundation will provide funding for more than 10,000 low-income and special-needs youth to play baseball this summer.
A donation to Union League Boys and Girls Club will expand baseball throughout Chicago with instruction and teamwork through Senior and Junior Cubs RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities). A contribution to Action for Healthy Kids will help two Chicago Public Schools incorporate healthy food choices and physical activity into their daily lives and into the culture of the school community.
• The Cubs have been active at the Trade Deadline the last two seasons, and will likely be again this year. As of now, Hoyer said his discussions with other general managers have not focused on possible deals.
"It's May 6," Hoyer said Tuesday. "Teams are still figuring out who's going to be good, still solving their own injuries through their own systems.
"It takes a while," he said. "Teams have to have a sense they can't fill the hole internally, and they usually don't come to that conclusion in May."
• Cubs pitcher Jose Veras struck out one of three batters he faced in a Minor League rehab outing Tuesday with Double-A Tennessee. Veras, who has been sidelined since April 24 with a left oblique strain, threw 11 pitches, seven for strikes, in the sixth inning of Tennessee's 4-1 win over Birmingham.
"It's nice to see a 1-2-3 inning and that he got through it fairly quickly," Hoyer said.
There is no timetable for Veras' return.
• Arodys Vizcaino, who has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011 and has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, was promoted from Class A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee.
"He is progressing," Hoyer said of the right-hander.
• The intracity Interleague series between the Cubs and White Sox will shift to U.S. Cellular Field for two games Wednesday and Thursday. Renteria said he was going to finalize his lineup after Tuesday's game, and decide then who will be the designated hitter.
"I usually sit down after the game and think through what potential lineups we'll use," Renteria said.
When the Cubs played two games at Yankee Stadium in mid April, Olt and Nate Schierholtz were the designated hitters.
• The Cubs and Reds will play a day-night doubleheader on July 8 in Cincinnati to make up for the April 28 game which was postponed because of rain. The first game will begin at 12:10 p.m. CT
• Tuesday's game marked Paul Konerko's final game at Wrigley Field, and Samardzija presented the White Sox slugger with the No. 14 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard as a farewell gift. Konerko is retiring after this season. He finishes 1-for-5 in his career against Samardzija, and that one hit was a home run.
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.