PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Bolt knew he was setting the bar pretty high when he decided to name his son “Skye.”
“He had a lot of pressure right out of the gate,” Mike Bolt said with a laugh.
Now, Skye is very much at the limit.
The Oakland Athletics called up the switch-hitting outfielder on Thursday, hoping he can provide a jolt to a lineup in need of one. Oakland arrived in Pittsburgh riding a six-game losing streak to slide into last in the American League West. The A’s are hitting just .237 on the season. Bolt was hitting .325 with six home runs, eight doubles and 27 RBIs at Triple-A Las Vegas when the fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft was called up late Wednesday night.
Bolt adjusted his approach in the middle of last season, stopping the “all or nothing” stuff that resulted in more power but little consistency. He focused more on his hands and putting the ball in play. Momentum built late last summer and carried over through spring training and his opening month at Triple-A.
The typically stoic 25-year-old burst into tears while calling his parents afterward. The phone call late Wednesday night was a relief to Eva Murray, who dozed off while watching Las Vegas play on the computer. When she woke up, her son was out of the game. She feared he was hurt. Then her cell phone rang with Skye’s signature ring tone: a quacking duck. When she answered, she couldn’t make out what he was saying because he was so emotional. At first, she was concerned. Then he started to string words together and pretty soon mother and son were crying.
“We were both in tears,” Murray said.
They had dried by Friday afternoon, but perhaps only temporarily. The game was a homecoming of sorts for Mike Bolt, who spent the summers with his grandmother in New Kensington, about a half our east of downtown Pittsburgh. They were regulars at Three Rivers Stadium, his grandmother keeping score all the while. He walked through the gates of PNC Park for the first time Friday afternoon, his voice catching while he spoke about his son’s rise to the majors.
“I always said if my kid ever made it, I wanted him to be a Pirate,” Bolt said, then adding “here we are” as he scanned the field before his voice trailed off.
The player whose full name is Skye Michael Bolt wasn’t in the starting lineup for Friday night’s series opener but figures to get in at some point this weekend. The A’s like his ability to work from both sides of the plate and his power from the left side, particularly with the 21-foot high Clemente Wall looming in right field at PNC Park.
Bolt called his ascension “an incredible roller coaster ride.” One that hit an apex in a place very close to his family’s heart.
“Growing up I heard story after story about how grandmother took (my dad) to ballgames in her big old Cadillac,” Bolt said.
A connection that played a part in the “waterworks conversation” father and son enjoyed late Wednesday night. They planned to reunite Friday, along with another 15 or so friends and family, including guys he used to run with in Little League.
Heady territory for the Bolt family. Mike Bolt’s reasoning for picking Skye as a first name was simple. He wanted something “that popped.”
That something showed up in the Oakland dugout Friday afternoon wearing a No. 49 uniform and a smile nearly impossible to erase.
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