Bolt was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas before the A’s series opener against the Pirates at PNC Park, the club announced Friday morning. Right-handed reliever Ryan Dull was optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move, putting the A’s back to an eight-man bullpen.
Bolt’s presence gives Oakland another position player and a switch-hitter off the bench as it heads into a National League park for the first time this season.
“[He’s a] toolsy guy,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s got some speed, he’s got some power, he throws pretty well and can play all three outfield positions. We didn’t get an extended look at him this spring, but you’re always trying to time these things right, and he’s been playing as well as anyone down there.”
Bolt was not in the starting lineup on Friday, but he entered in the seventh inning of the A’s 14-1 win over the Pirates for pitcher Brett Anderson. He popped out in foul territory that at-bat, then struck out swinging in the ninth inning. Melvin said the fourth-round Draft pick could see his first start soon, noting that “at some point” Ramon Laureano will need a day off.
The road to the Majors wasn’t easy for Bolt. He progressed through the Class A ranks year by year from 2015-17, but hit a snag in his development at the start of the ‘18 season at Double-A Midland. In 11 games with the team that April, Bolt recorded just six hits (no homers) to 17 strikeouts, and the organization decided to send him back to Class A Advanced Stockton to work on his approach.
That move marked the beginning of a breakthrough for Bolt. He began to work toward a contact-oriented strategy for his at-bats, scrapping his prior “all-or-nothing” mentality.
“That’s not my game at this stage,” Bolt said. “Now, I might continue to grow a little bit and mature with age, but the bat-to-ball skills was something we worked on, and that began with controlling my body and the most important thing at the plate: your eyes and head.”
The tweaks paid dividends at the plate the rest of the year. Bolt put up a .902 OPS in 46 games at Stockton and didn’t miss a beat at Double-A. This year, in 22 games with Triple-A Las Vegas, he’s slugged six homers and eight doubles en route to a 1.075 OPS.
Having lost nine of their past 12 games and hitting just .204 as a club since April 16, the A’s hope that Bolt can bring that success and translate it into a boost for the struggling lineup. With the A’s short on left-handed bats, Bolt figures to get the bulk of his playing time against right-handed pitchers, and Pittsburgh has an entirely right-handed rotation. Bolt has hit righties especially well this year, posting a 1.156 OPS with five homers and 20 RBIs.
One of Bolt's old college teammates, Colin Moran, was in the opposing dugout when the A's and Pirates met on Friday. Moran and Bolt starred for the North Carolina team that made the College World Series in 2013.
“He sent me a text [when] I was on the flight yesterday,” Bolt said. “He gave me the congratulations, said, ‘I’ll see you here,’ and I’ll probably end up catching dinner with him before we head out.”
And though Bolt was raised in Georgia, his family has roots in the Pittsburgh area. His father, Mike, lived there until age 10 or 11, according to Bolt.
“Growing up, I just used to hear story after story of how my grandmother used to take him to ballgames over the summer in her big, old Cadillac,” Bolt said. “They used to wear [the] ballpark out with tickets and attendance.
“I can’t think of -- besides Oakland -- a better city for me personally and my family to make my debut and get to put on the uniform for the first time.”
Olson getting rehab at-bats
Matt Olson (right hamate bone) is progressing well in his rehab at Triple-A Las Vegas, according to Melvin. The first baseman didn’t record a hit across his seven at-bats so far with the Aviators, but drew a walk on Wednesday. He’s expected to DH tonight.
“He feels good. He’s seeing a lot of pitches,” Melvin said. “Hit a couple balls hard the first night, had a walk. ... Maybe not his best night, but feels good seeing pitches, and it’s health that we want. Still got a few more games before we potentially bring him up.”