Are the Cubs Still Hoping Mike Olt Will Grab the Third Base Job? And Other News and Notes

Mike Olt said he was feeling better prior to Tuesday’s game after receiving a massage and treatment on his right shoulder. And he proved it against his former team. Olt hit a two-run homer off of Alexi Ogando and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.

CubsMesaLogo-pubMike Olt and Rick Renteria said Tuesday that if all goes as planned that Olt would make his Cubs’ debut at third base on Wednesday night in Scottsdale against the Rockies. Patrick Mooney reported the Cubs are hoping Olt will be able to play third base on Wednesday and make a push for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Counting Wednesday’s game against the Rockies, the Cubs have 12 games left on the spring schedule. Olt is 8-for-31 in 10 games this spring with four home runs, nine RBI, one walk and 12 strikeouts (.258/.273/.645/.918). And if Mike Olt is going to be at third base on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, he’s going to have to show his shoulder can handle playing the hot corner.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro participated in batting practice Tuesday. And one day after declaring he was about at 80 percent, Castro said Tuesday he is getting close to returning to the lineup. Castro said he is about at 90 percent in his recovery from a right hamstring strain.

According to a report from Mark Gonzales, Castro said everything felt good after going through a series of drills that included taking grounders, hitting on the field, making throws and running (straight line, turning). Castro has been able to push off with his right leg according to a report from Carrie Muskat. The Cubs did not say when Castro would be back in the lineup.

James McDonald

James McDonald met with the beat writers on Tuesday and said his shoulder is not as bad as it was last year. McDonald described the issues in his right shoulder as inflammation and tendinitis symptoms according to Patrick Mooney. McDonald will take a couple of days off then see how it feels at that point.

According to ESPN Chicago, McDonald said his shoulder felt a little sore during warm ups.

McDonald is trying to make the team out of camp and while the Cubs are not calling this a setback, the time away from the mound will not help his cause. As ESPN Chicago pointed out, the one-year contract he signed is not guaranteed.

Javier Baez

Javier Baez played second base again Tuesday night. And after handling all four chances on Monday without any issues, Baez committed an error in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game. Before the game, Baez said playing second base on Monday “was weird at first” but he said he got used to it. Baez is expected to see time at third base before he is reassigned to minor league camp.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs have been working with Baez to stay on his toes and to not throw flat footed. Baez has been working on his defense with Gary Jones.

In regards to playing second base, Javier Baez said, “It will take time to get used to that position.”

Other than the error, Baez looked good at second base on Tuesday, especially in the ninth inning when he handled a chopper off the bat of Jurickson Profar and threw him out at first base with ease. Baez looked smooth on that play.

Roster Moves

The Cubs made eight roster moves prior to Tuesday’s game against the Rangers. The Cubs optioned Arodys Vizcaino, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Zac Rosscup and Christian Villanueva to Triple-A Iowa. Mitch Maier, Armando Rivero and Rafael Lopez were reassigned to minor league camp.

After the fourth round of roster cuts, the Cubs spring roster officially stands at 45 players.

On sending Arodys Vizcaino to Triple-A Iowa to start the season, Rick Renteria said the Cubs are being cautious with Vizcaino and by having him start the year in Triple-A it gives the organization “a controlled environment” to make sure he keeps pitching and avoids the disabled list.

Also by starting Arodys Vizcaino in Triple-A, it delays his clock and if they keep him down in the minors long enough they will gain another year of control.

News and Notes

Rick Renteria announced Tuesday his pitching rotation for the rest of the week. Carlos Villanueva will face the Rockies on Wednesday. Jeff Samardzija starts against the Mariners at Cubs Park on Thursday. Tsuyoshi Wada will throw in a minor league game on Thursday. Chris Rusin gets the White Sox in Glendale on Friday. Travis Wood will get his work in on Friday in a minor league game.

Keith Law posted a report on 10 players he thinks might have breakout performances this season. Law said he’s gone back and forth on Anthony Rizzo due to his inconsistent swing. Law said, “He keeps changing his load, often for the worse, which makes him for strikeout prone and particularly vulnerable to left-handed pitchers. His hands aren’t quite as low this spring as they were last year, but he’s still in a state of constant flux with his mechanics and doesn’t keep his weight back as well as he once did. All that aside, I still think there’s long-term potential because he has a good eye and enough raw power to eventually post a 30-homer season. His hit tool lags behind his other tools and probably will until he locks himself into a more consistent swing and mechanical approach.”

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe