Cubs’ Mike Olt back in the field, back in the mixContinue reading.
What’s on third? It could be Cubs’ Mike Olt
MESA, Ariz. – On a back field at the Cubs spring training complex Saturday, new Cub Mike Olt was in the outfield during a casual round of batting practice, shagging flies – with a bat.
He gave chase to one ball slicing away from him in left field, reaching out one-handed, on the run, with a lunging swing that connected with the ball, “fouling” it over the wall.
If anyone in camp didn’t already know his ability to see the ball was back to full strength, there it was. A clear sign that the vision problems plaguing him all season last year are gone, the clearest sign yet of where his ocular health is right now.
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Olt, who’s experienced a lot better signs than that during the first week of camp. “The past couple days I’ve taken live BP, and just getting in there and just picking up some things – I definitely think I’m ahead of schedule for how I usually am at this time. So I think that’s more of a sign.”
Either way, if the tear-duct problems that exacerbated his allergies, blurred his vision, ruined his 2013 season and made him available from Texas in the Matt Garza trade are all gone, then the Cubs might have a real candidate for their core at third base.
“I feel like we made a lot of progress with what I need to do now,” said Olt, who’s been prescribed medicated eye drops he says are working. “Now it’s just fun to get out there and not think about it anymore.”
If he’s fixed, it’s the end of more than a year of problems that he and some of his doctors believe may have started with a concussion suffered when beaned in winter ball a few months after his two-month big-league debut.
Ranked as high as 22nd on Baseball America’s prospect list heading into last season, the power-hitting, strong-fielding third baseman could be a player to watch in games this spring, with the potential for knocking the Luis Valbuena-Donnie Murphy platoon off third.
He definitely likes his chances for a good spring, he said.
“As long as I’m healthy, I know that I can do what I was capable of,” said the former first-round draft pick, who hit .288 with 28 homers and a .977 OPS in just 95 games at Class AA before his callup in 2012.
“I know that I belong,” he added. “I belong in the big leagues. I’ve just got to make sure I stay healthy and make sure I’m on everything and just let my abilities take over.”
Whether it leads to him becoming part of the Cubs’ long-term core, “I’ve still got a lot of time and I’ve still got a lot to work on. But it’s definitely more fun for me right now to know that I’m on the right path.”