Cubs’ Mike Olt says he’ll be ready if he gets his shot
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Sports Reporter March 2, 2014 10:59PM
MESA, Ariz. — Third baseman Mike Olt unwrapped the heavy treatment pack from his right shoulder as he talked, all the while trying to make it clear it’s not an injury and that the “little bit of dead arm” would not prevent him from competing in the field this spring.
“I’ve had this the last couple of spring trainings,” said Olt, who’s scheduled for his first game in the field Monday at first base, after playing only as the DH before that. “Definitely the last week, week and a half, it’s gotten a lot better. I’m ready to go.”
Where it will take him in the battle for a big-league job – maybe even the starting job at third – seems less certain.
“He [has] the opportunity to show everybody what he’s got, coming off a layoff,” manager Rick Renteria said, referring to the former elite prospect who had his 2013 season ruined by an off-season concussion followed by vision and tear-duct problems. “You never know. We’re just trying to get him healthy, comfortable and see how it falls into place, and let the spring tell us what’s going to happen.”
Renteria said Olt’s health is no concern.
More than the shoulder, Olt said the vision problems are behind him. The last time he saw clearly, he followed his vision to a huge minor-league season (.977 OPS) and big-league debut with the Texas Rangers in 2012.
Can he knock incumbents Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy off their third-base platoon?
“I know he’s anxious to get out there [in the field],” Renteria said. “We’re feeling the same thing he is.”
Olt, 25, said even through the shoulder issue, “I never had a problem hitting.”
As for what he can get done in the four weeks before Renteria makes out his Opening Day lineup, “I do know I belong in the big leagues,” he said. “It’s not a matter of thinking about making the big leagues. It’s about just going out there and doing my thing and whatever happens, happens.
“And whenever I do get a shot, I’ll be ready.”