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mike olt iowaMike Olt has been dealing with a sore throwing shoulder all of Spring Training, an affliction he described as an annual rite, and something that wasn’t a long-term concern. As he battles to try and win the third base job out of Spring, though, it’s become a modest issue – the bat looks like it might be legitimately back to where it was in 2012 when Olt was a breakout prospect, but if he can’t yet play at third, then it’s hard to hand him the third base job.

To that end, Olt was scratched from today’s lineup, where he was scheduled to start at first base. Rick Renteria told the media that it was due to shoulder fatigue, which is presumably all wrapped up in the same issue. Olt had been doing some drills at third base, I believe, so he’s been working on his throws.

There’s probably nothing to worry about here, other than the bummer of Olt missing a game. As I’ve said before, I still don’t quite see Olt breaking camp with the big team when it would be very easy to let him get in some time at AAA Iowa, really demonstrate that his offensive game is where it needs to be, and then he can come up. No one is worried about his ability to play third base long-term – by all accounts, he’s a very good defensive third baseman – and that’s not going to go away just because he’s taking some time off from the position to rest his shoulder and to get at bats at AAA, where he’d likely have to rotate among first, third, and DH.

We’ll see if Olt can continue to perform well over the final two weeks of Spring Training and force the issue. Obviously that’s a best case scenario from the Cubs’ perspective (well, force the issue, and then put up All-Star numbers), but there’s no reason to push the envelope just yet.

UPDATE: For you worrywarts in the comments, the Tribune has video of Renteria’s comments, and although it’s not clear exactly what the issue is, RR is just saying it’s fatigue generally, and talks about resting Olt so that he can make it through the rest of Spring Training with plenty of time for the Cubs to see him at third. As I said above, this doesn’t sound all that serious. That said, I’d think you’d like to see Olt get in at least a week’s worth of games at third before making any kind of decision.

UPDATE 2: OK, so it is the shoulder, but Olt thinks he could be playing third base as soon as tomorrow night:

  • Mreverything

    See you in Iowa, Mike. (Unfortunately)

  • Jon

    2014 Shoulder will = 2013 eyes

    • Wilburthefirst

      … is this Diehardthefirst and you’re just teasing us?

  • Kyle

    A 38% spring strikeout rate *and* a bum shoulder, and he’s still the most exciting thing the Cubs have going for them that has a chance to break camp.

    • Jon

      There is always something with him it seems….

    • DarthHater

      “he’s still the most exciting thing the Cubs have going for them”

      You’re forgetting about Clark.

      • jp3

        Also don’t forget that old style will still be available

    • brickhouse

      Maybe his 38% strike out rate has caused shoulder fatigue. Need to swing and hit the ball more.

      • willis

        Well played.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Attention Mike Olt, attention Mike Olt…prepared to be passed by Christian Villenueva in the prospect pecking order.

    Olt sure seems like he is devolving into the class of Brett Jackson – Josh Vitters.

    Oh well.

    • SenorGato

      That ship has sailed as far as Villanueva is concerned. Besides size not allowing to project for major power he’s basically where Olt was a couple of years ago but at a more reasonable age and level of health. His performance in AA gets underrated – the Southern League is not an easy league to hit in for the most part and he went and hit 62 XBHs. His OPS was 10th in the group of guys who played more than 100 games in the league.He’s got the glove Olt HAD two years ago, and he’s probably a little more versatile defensively as well.

      Recently I read a scout out there somewhere said he could hit .300 in the majors. Obviously that doesn’t mean he’s a .300 hitter, but I tend to agree that he’s capable of sprinkling a .300 season in there, when he does make contact it’s hard contact.

      • C. Steadman

        I agree, if I had to choose between Olt or Villanueva, I’d choose Villanueva. But good thing we don’t have to choose. Olt will be Iowa’s 1B while Villanueva mans 3B

      • Blackhawks1963

        I like Villenueva. Nice skill set. He’s one of those guys who can sneak past the big prospects and carve out a nice 10 year plus major league career.

  • Fishin Phil

    Wow, you guys are harsh. Did his arm fall completely off or something?

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      It’s Spring and we got bad news about a prospect that we were starting to feel good about. Need you know more?

      • Fishin Phil

        We do tend to over react to both good news and bad news. I’m not in love with Olt, not really expecting him to break out, but I’m not ready to start shoveling the dirt on him just yet either.

        • Wilburthefirst

          … similar feelings.

  • Edwin

    Has Vitters played much this spring?

    • Blackhawks1963

      He’s been busy going to career fairs at the local community colleges in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

    • Spriggs

      If he was good, he would be playing a little more.

  • Spriggs

    So which do you think is the more likely future headline on Olt:

    “Olt’s Arm at Full Strength, Will Make Start at 3B Next Game”

    OR

    “MRI Reveals ____. Olt to Have Surgery and will Miss 2014 Season”

    • Jon

      July of this year

      “Struggling Iowa Cubs 3rd baseman Mike Olt is hoping to get past shoulder issues that have plagued him all season”

      • Spriggs

        sounds about right.

      • gocatsgo2003

        So… there really is no topic on which you will not take the most pessimistic stance possible?

        • Spriggs

          I am very high on Baez and Bryant

          • gocatsgo2003

            (That was to Jon… sorry)

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      MRI reveals that Olt, Castro, Rizzo and Samardzija all need Tommy John and ACL Reconstruction surgery Castro, Rizzo and Samardzija to have surgery and out until 2016. Olt to have surgery and will miss 2014 season. Baez and Bryant stuck blind by the hand of God. Playing careers over.

      • Spriggs

        …wacha no-hits Olt,Rizzo,Castro,Baez,Samardzija less cubs as cards clinch in August.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          In other news, MLB has done away with draft compensation for teams that fail to sign their first round draft picks a month after the Cubs were unable to lure Rodon away from a Senior season at NC State.

          God, this is getting pretty depressing.

          • Jon

            On the bright side, it would put another CBA “Excuse Card” in their deck.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              Theo plays the +97 CBA Excuse Card And The Die Roll Indicates A New 10-Year Extension

              • C. Steadman

                Welington Castillo eats all the remaining hamburgers at Wrigley the day before hansman was planning to catch a game.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  WORST.NEWS.EVER.

                • Spriggs

                  Rooftop owners win lawsuit. Construction shut down, jumbo tron demolished.

                  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                    Rooftop Owners Win Lawsuit And Deed To Wrigley Field.

                • Spriggs

                  Congress outlaws all future sports/tv/cable contracts

  • Rebuilding

    Now Anibal Sanchez has a sore shoulder. They’re dropping like flies

    • Blackhawks1963

      The evil doings of throwing the slider…or at least that seems to be the common linkage according to the “experts”.

    • C. Steadman

      well there goes my fantasy teams #1…

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Whew, avoided another bad FA signing.

      • Fishin Phil

        LOL, Ok that was bad. No hamburgers for you!

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          I TAKE IT BACK!

    • Rebuilding

      Baez starting at 2b today

  • VittersStartingLF

    Sadly, this is a very negative blog. Definitely, a glass half empty group of commenters on Bleacher Nation :-(

    • Blackhawks1963

      I think your blog name about says it all in terms of your, ahem…”optimism” on certain players. lol.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Looking at Vitters’ numbers in Triple A the past two years, I have a hard time coming with an argument for not considering Vitters as a starting left fielder at some point this season (provided he can stay healthy).

      • C. Steadman

        Vitters is learning a new position, he still has a stick. There was no chance he would’ve made the 25-man after an injury-plagued 2013, so no need to give him a lot of big league camp AB’s. He’ll be fine in Iowa for a few months.

        • Jon

          Really though, it’s left field. It’s not that hard.

          • C. Steadman

            Soriano sure played good defense out there…

          • Spriggs

            For him, fielding ANY position is very, very hard.

            • Jon

              How do you know this? He’s only been a 3rd baseman his entire MLB career. Give him a larger sample size and a much easier position.

              • Spriggs

                I have seen him play OF and IF since they drafted him in 2007. I have seen way more than enough to feel pretty confident that he will never be a good fielder anywhere on the diamond. Hands of stone with no instincts.

                • Blackhawks1963

                  When has anybody seen Josh Vitters play the outfield? The fact of the matter is he hasn’t played much outfield in this his 8th year in the organization.

                  Like I have said, if not for Vitters (and Brett Jackson) being a former first round draft pick, then nobody would really be talking about him. He’s devolved into the McDonald-land of journeyman minor leaguer.

                  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                    Except that he was 23 and demolished AAA.

                  • C. Steadman

                    Except that he is only 24 and had a slash of 295/380/511 last year…

                  • Norm

                    “Like I have said, if not for Vitters (and Brett Jackson) being a former first round draft pick, then nobody would really be talking about him.”

                    Like I have said, if Vitters were a 15th rounder EVERYONE would be talking about how he deserves a chance to prove it on the MLB level.

                    • Blackhawks1963

                      Josh Vitters (and Brett Jackson) play on what has been one of THE worst big league clubs in 2012 and 2013. And the prognosis for 2014 isn’t much better. Meanwhile, our current outfield options are among the most pathetic in baseball…not exactly DiMaggio, Mantle and Ruth from left to right as we enter 2014.

                      So tell me…what’s stopping the great and powerful Josh Vitters (and Brett Jackson) from glorious big league opportunity?!? Crikey.

                    • Norm

                      Vitters had a lost year in 2013. He’ll get an opportunity.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  You can’t have seen too much of him in left. B-R only lists him as having 3 minor league games there thus far.

                  • Spriggs

                    He’s been in the outfield during workouts in Mesa for years. Even in the AFL for some real games.

                • Jon

                  “Hands of Stone”

                  Which is precisely why LF could make the difference. He won’t be dealing with the rocket grounder, glove to hand transition, and throw to first.

                  By all accounts, he does have a decent arm.

              • C. Steadman

                It’s the 2nd easiest position to hide a big bat no defense guy and still get value. Vitters hasn’t proven he has a big bat in MLB terms(just AAA so far) so he needs to play some quality LF to provide value unless he swings the stick like Soriano.

    • BlameHendry

      With the current state of this team, and the way the team has dragged its fans through the mud the last few years, do you honestly expect anything different?

    • Boccabella12

      If the Cubs ever win the World Series in five games, some folks will insist that cheapskate Ricketts refused to spend enough for a sweep.

      • Brocktoon

        No, I’m quite sure nobody would say that. But it’s a relevant comparison for a team that has a plummeting payroll and been just awful on the big league level every year of his ownership

  • auggie

    I think Olt’s shoulder will remain sore until the Cubs can swing a deal to trade Barney. Then suddenly it will heal and Olt will be recalled from Iowa.

    The Cubs would have to release Murphy if Olt were to come north with the team, as Valbuena and Bonifacio appear to be the backup infielders. If Olt were sent to Iowa, Murphy, Valbuena and Bonifacio would be on the 25 man roster.

  • Javier Bryant

    Olt will be in Pittsburgh to begin the season

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    any chance he starts at iowa this season?

  • Diehardthefirst

    Olt is another in a long line of lost causes trying to fill Ron Santos shoes- shame he wasn’t voted in earlier which was deserved

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