7/23/2014 12:45 A.M. ET
Olt optioned to Triple-A to make room for Wada
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Mike Olt leads all National League rookies with 12 home runs, but he's also first with 84 strikeouts and was batting .139 after going 0-for-4 in Tuesday night's 6-0 victory over the Padres with three strikeouts. After the game, the Cubs announced they were optioning Olt to Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs need to open a roster spot for pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, who will be making his second big league start Wednesday against the Padres.
Olt, acquired a year ago Tuesday from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, went 2-for-35 in June, and was 3-for-25 in 12 games in July. If there's a plus to the demotion, it's that he'll be reunited with Manny Ramirez, who is a player/coach at the Cubs' Triple-A team, and a former teammate of Olt's.
Before Tuesday's game, general manager Jed Hoyer was asked about Olt and outfielder Junior Lake, who was batting .216. Manager Rick Renteria has tried to start Olt and Lake against lefties.
"Their contact rates have been a struggle," Hoyer said of the two players. "They've showed some frustration at times but I do like that they keep on working to improve."
Alcantara to see more time with latest moves
CHICAGO -- The Cubs' youth movement is underway with the team's decision to stick with Arismendy Alcantara and say goodbye to Darwin Barney, who was designated for assignment Tuesday.
"It's time for 'Mendy' to play," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. "He'll play second, he'll play center. I think he'll be in the lineup every day. One of the things we feel strongly about is that when we do bring guys up, they're here to play. We're not going to bring up these guys who are part of our future to share time on the bench."
Alcantara, who hit his second homer in Tuesday night's 6-0 victory over the Padres, was called up from Triple-A Iowa on July 9, when Barney went on paternity leave, and was batting .286 in his first eight games. He will play both second and center field, switching with Emilio Bonifacio, who was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, which prompted the need for a spot on the roster.
"We don't expect [Alcantara] to come up here and set the world on fire," Hoyer said. "I think he'll have some great series like he had, and he'll have some struggles like he did in Arizona [when he went 1-for-12]. That's part of the process and it's part of the process for every one of the young guys we bring up, as Starlin [Castro] and [Anthony] Rizzo can attest to."
Alcantara and Bonifacio are interchangeable at the top of the Cubs' order, too, as both are switch-hitters, and both have speed.
"One is obviously an established player, and one is coming along and learning his craft at the Major League level," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of the two. "Now [Alcantara] has a partner who is doing what he's doing. It's not bad that they're here at the same time."
Alcantara, who batted .307 at Triple-A Iowa, has had more playing time at second than center.
"He'll probably have some growing pains out there," Hoyer said.
Other top prospects must wait turn for Majors
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have decided to play Arismendy Alcantara at second and center, so the next question is, when do the other top prospects get to the big leagues?
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has been asked that a lot.
"I'm not going to sit here and answer that," Hoyer said Tuesday. "There's a lot of baseball left to be played. There may be more guys who come up at some point the rest of the year. It's important to focus on what's out here now.
"It's fun to look at the box scores at [Triple-A] Iowa and [Double-A] Tennessee, but I don't think anytime you switch a guy's position, or a guy has a big night, people shouldn't be clamoring for a promotion."
Fans eager to see the so-called "core four" get closer to the big leagues got their wish on Tuesday. The Cubs announced they were promoting top prospects Jorge Soler to Triple-A Iowa and Albert Almora to Double-A Tennessee. Soler, 22, was batting .415 at Tennessee after going 2-for-3 on Tuesday with a triple. The outfielder was limited early this season because of leg injuries.
Almora, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, hit his seventh home run on Tuesday, and was batting .283 with 50 RBIs.
Javier Baez, the Cubs' top-ranked prospect on MLB.com's list, has started at second base in four of his last five games at Iowa. Hoyer said the decision to move Baez from shortstop to second had nothing to do with Tuesday's decision to designate veteran Darwin Barney for assignment.
"We want to increase [Baez's] versatility," Hoyer said. "We thought it was the right thing to do to put him there."
The Cubs had hoped to have Baez playing second before the All-Star break, but decided to wait, as the infielder struggled at the plate.
There also has been talk internally of moving Kris Bryant, the team's first-round Draft pick last year, to the outfield, but Hoyer said they want him to stay at third base.
Hoyer reflects on anniversary of Garza trade
CHICAGO -- Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the Cubs' deal with the Rangers in which they sent Matt Garza to Texas for Justin Grimm, Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards and a player to be named later, who was Neil Ramirez.
Grimm and Ramirez are on the Cubs' big league roster, while Olt was sent down to Triple-A Iowa after Tuesday's 6-0 victory over the Padres and Edwards is rehabbing from shoulder issues. Garza went 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts for the Rangers, and then signed as a free agent with the Brewers in January.
"It's worked out well," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. "That's the kind of deal -- we weren't in contention, Matt was a free agent, and we were able to get four players back who have helped us. Grimm and Ramirez have been a big help for the bullpen this year. C.J. got hurt and he's on his way back and we're confident of his future. Mike had a great spring, and it's a really good story. We saw him do it in spring -- he's got to get back to that point."
Grimm is second in innings pitched among the Cubs' relievers, and Ramirez was 3-for-3 in save situations. Olt leads all National League rookies with 12 home runs.
Edwards was scheduled to throw a bullpen session in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday, where he is rehabbing, and could play in the Arizona Fall League in October.
"It was a good deal for us and gave Matt a chance to get in the pennant race," Hoyer said.
Last year, the Cubs dealt two starters -- Garza and Scott Feldman -- and have traded two this month as well in Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, who were both sent to the Athletics on July 4.
Schierholtz named Heart and Hustle Award winner
CHICAGO -- The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association named Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz as the team's 2014 Heart and Hustle Award winner.
The honor goes to active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
MLBPAA Director of Communications Nikki Warner said Tuesday that Schierholtz is an exemplary teammate, consummate professional, and inspiration to his community.
The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, comprised of Alumni players with established relationships to each team. One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.
• Kyuji Fujikawa made his first rehab appearance at Triple-A Iowa on Monday, and gave up one run on two hits in one inning. He's coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, which he had in June 2013. Fujikawa made six rehab appearances between the Cubs' Rookie League team in Mesa, Ariz., and Class A Kane County, striking out nine and walking two over 5 2/3 innings. There is no timetable for his return.
"He's throwing better and moving in the right direction," Hoyer said.
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.