5/7/2014 11:38 P.M. ET
Slumping Olt looks for jolt out of DH slot
By Carrie Muskat and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Mike Olt is trying to relax, and maybe being the designated hitter for one game will help.
The Cubs third baseman was the DH for Wednesday's Interleague game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. He entered the day 2-for-23 in his last nine games. Cubs manager Rick Renteria has opted to platoon Olt with left-handed-hitting Luis Valbuena at third base, so not playing every day has been new.
"It's hard -- you could be struggling a little bit and tend to put a little more pressure on yourself, and that's what's been going on with me right now," Olt said. "I've had some talks with guys on the team and coaches and am going to go back to being relaxed. There's no excuse to say, 'Hey, I'm not playing, this is why I'm struggling.' It's more me putting too much pressure on myself. I'm going to go back to having fun."
He's been used as the designated hitter before, including Spring Training.
"I guess I used to not like it as much, and it's always something you have to get use to," Olt said. "In Spring Training, I did a good job of keeping myself focused more and staying in the game. I'm going to use what I learned in Spring Training and carry it over."
Players just want to play every day. It's that simple.
"You're mentality is always to play," Olt said. "One of the things I'm learning this season is how to adjust to different roles and making sure I can do whatever it takes to be ready for whatever role is called upon. It's still a learning process. I'm definitely getting better at it."
As for his hitting, he's not worried.
"I've been through way worse slumps than this," he said.
Olt delivered a solo home run in the fifth inning of the 8-3 loss, finishing 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Samardzija says pitch count talk misguided
CHICAGO -- As far as Jeff Samardzija is concerned, throwing 126 pitches over nine innings, which he did Monday, is not a big deal. It's also not something the Cubs pitcher expects to do every outing, and he will keep discussions on the matter between himself, pitching coach Chris Bosio and manager Rick Renteria.
"If Ricky didn't like how many pitches I threw, he'll come up to me and tell me, 'Hey, Jeff, it might not happen again, so enjoy it while you can,' which I'm fine with," Samardzija said Wednesday. "That's something we need to talk about. I'm a grown up, I can handle news like that, saying, 'Hey, we're going to keep you to 85, 90 [pitches] the next time,' or anything like that. I trust Ricky and know he's a very honest man and he'll shoot me straight. That's all I ask for. If I don't feel good, I'll tell him."
On Tuesday, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said he doesn't like to see pitchers throw that many pitches.
"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," Hoyer said. "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."
Samardzija said he talked to Renteria in Spring Training and made it clear he wanted to go deep in games as much as possible.
"I just asked that we have good communication between each other during the game and that's it," Samardzija said. "Bosio was outstanding [Monday]. We knew where we were at and felt great. That's what you want, confidence from the coaches."
Told that the front office may not encourage such outings, Samardzija said it's an "on-field issue for uniformed personnel."
"I'm a grown man at 29, not a prospect at 22," he said. "I feel good. I think I'm grown up enough and responsible enough to understand when I can go and can't go. I'm going to go off that. I've earned my right in athletics to understand my body and where I'm at."
White Sox starter Chris Sale threw 127 pitches on April 17, which was his fourth game this season over 100 pitches, and is now on the disabled list with a flexor muscle strain. Samardzija said it's unfair to compare because everyone is different.
"You don't bring kids up through the system and coach every kid the same," he said. "There's different things you do for different guys. Do I want to go out and throw 120 pitches every time? Absolutely not. There's times when it calls for it, and times when it needs to get done and someone has to do it.
"It's unfortunate that we're getting to a point in the game where this is becoming news because it shouldn't," he said. "It should be the other way around -- why did this guy throw 75 pitches and then come out of the game after five innings? What's that about? I think the light is in the wrong direction."
The Cubs and White Sox were tied at 1 through nine innings Monday, and Renteria wanted to keep Samardzija in the game as long as possible to try to get him a win. He ranks second in the National League with a 1.62 ERA, but is 0-3 in his seven starts.
"There's a lot of things you need to do to win a ballgame and that needs to happen," Samardzija said. "It is what it is. Does it always work in your favor? No. We're at where we're at, and we're going to keep going out and pitching and try to get that first win."
Strop on DL with strained groin; Rosscup recalled
CHICAGO -- The Cubs placed reliever Pedro Strop on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a moderate left groin strain and recalled lefty Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa.
Strop was pulled from Tuesday's game after facing five batters. He apparently injured his leg a few days ago while working out, but said he was ready to pitch. Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Strop was available.
"I didn't think [his leg] was an issue, quite frankly," Renteria said. "He'd been working and did fine in his flat ground. All indications were that he was fine."
Rosscup, 25, begins his third stint with the Cubs this season having thrown 2 2/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances so far. He was the 26th man in the second game of a doubleheader on April 16 at Yankee Stadium. He was recalled once more on April 24, and threw a scoreless inning on April 29 in Cincinnati before he was optioned to Iowa on May 3.
Rusin tosses no-hitter for Triple-A Iowa
CHICAGO -- Left-hander Chris Rusin said he had never gone past the sixth inning of a game without giving up a hit. On Wednesday, he went all the way.
Rusin threw a no-hitter and helped himself by hitting a two-run single to lead Triple-A Iowa to a 3-0 victory over New Orleans.
Rusin struck out three and walked two for the win, throwing 118 pitches, 72 for strikes. It's the first no-no by an Iowa Cubs pitcher since Reggie Patterson did so in 1984.
"I was just trying to keep the ball down like I did all game," Rusin said. "I was going to keep pounding until they made an adjustment. I just kept doing what I wanted to do."
He received a congratulatory Gatorade shower from his teammates. Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said he called the lefty as well.
Three New Orleans players reached against Rusin, including Josh Rodriguez, who drew a one-out walk in the first and a leadoff walk in the seventh. Rusin was at 104 pitches through eight innings.
"I didn't know how many pitches I had," Rusin said. "I was going to keep pitching until the Cubs pulled me out."
Rodriguez made the last out of the game, htiting a pop fly to shallow center that Matt Szczur snared.
A fourth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Rusin, 27, made seven starts with the big league team in 2012, and another 13 starts last season. This year, he was called up as insurance for the bullpen, and pitched five innings in relief against the Cardinals on April 12. In that game, he gave up one run on three hits.
Bryant homers twice for Double-A Tennessee
Third baseman Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 2 prospect, hit two home runs and drove in a career-high six runs Wednesday, leading Double-A Tennessee to a 12-1 victory against Birmingham. It was his first career multi-homer game.
Bryant, ranked as the No. 8 overall prospect by MLB.com, finished 3-for-4 with four runs, a double and a walk.
The Cubs selected Bryant with the second pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, and he has quickly found success as a professional. He hit .336 with nine home runs in 36 games at three levels after signing last summer. He finished the year in the Arizona Fall League, where he was named MVP.
Even a move up to Double-A hasn't slowed Bryant. In 32 games, he is hitting .313 with a 1.028 OPS and leads the Southern League with eight home runs.
One of the beneficiaries of Bryant's offensive outburst Wednesday was right-hander Arodys Vizcaino, the Cubs' No. 8 prospect. He struck out two batters in a perfect ninth inning.
Vizcaino was promoted to Tennessee on Wednesday. He missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early 2012, and the Cubs have been easing him back into a routine this season. He started the season with Class A Advanced Daytona, where he struck out 10 batters in nine innings.
• Triple-A Iowa's Tsuyoshi Wada and Class A Kane County's Will Remillard were named the Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Month for April, respectively, by the Cubs on Wednesday.
Wada, 33, went 3-1 with a Pacific Coast League-leading 0.68 ERA in four April starts for Iowa, walking three and striking out 29, good for an average of 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. His 0.65 WHIP led the league, while his .156 opponents' batting average ranked second.
In his first year since signing with the Cubs organization in January, Wada is 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA in six starts for Iowa. He has struck out 38 and walked six.
Remillard, 21, batted .373 (19-for-51) with six doubles, one home run and 15 RBIs in April, his first month in professional baseball since he was selected by the Cubs in the 19th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. The right-handed batter finished with a 1.007 OPS, including a .458 on-base percentage and a .549 slugging mark.
A native of Cohoes, N.Y., Remillard is hitting .385 (25-for-65) with eight doubles, one home run and 21 RBIs in 19 games for Kane County this season. He is 9-for-18 off left-handed pitching and has a .340 average (16-for-47) against right-handers.
• Jorge Soler, who injured his right hamstring after his first at-bat April 3 for Double-A Tennessee, was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday. Soler is ranked No. 5 among the club's prospects according to MLB.com.
In addition, right-handed reliever Arodys Vizcaino has been transferred to Tennessee from Class A Daytona. He gave up one earned run over nine innings for Daytona. Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves in July 2012, has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
• The Smokies announced outfielder Zeke DeVoss has been transferred to Class A Boise. In 23 games for the Smokies, DeVoss was batting .120 (9-for-75) with a home run and six RBIs.
• The Cubs have released right-hander Ryan Searle. In nine appearances for Tennessee this year, the 24-year-old accumulated a 3-1 record and 6.63 ERA, giving up 14 earned runs over 19 innings.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.