Mike 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:
Olt says right shoulder will undergo more treatment today, believes he could play 3b as soon as Tuesday night if all goes well
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 17, 2014