Olt Set to Start at Third, Castro Closer and Other Cubs Spring Training News and Notes

Mike Olt is getting nearly as much ink as Javier Baez this spring and he could see his first action at third base on Thursday afternoon when the Cubs take on the Mariners at Cubs Park. The vision problems that derailed Olt’s career appear to be behind him and the only question that seems to be keeping him from breaking camp as the team’s starting third baseman is if his right shoulder will allow him to play the position. Olt is known as a plus defender at third base, but has yet to play the position this spring.

CubsMesaLogo-pubMike Olt has been working at third base with Gary Jones during practice and he is anxious to play third base again according to a report from the Tribune.

Rick Renteria addressed the possibility of Olt being a third base on Opening Day. “He has to be healthy. We can’t make a determination on anything as far as where he’s going to be until he’s capable of going out there. We’ve got to take it one day at a time.”

Mike Olt admitted it has taken him longer than he thought it would to get his shoulder right so he could play third base. Olt said he tested his shoulder Wednesday. All is well with his shoulder according to a report from Carrie Muskat and he expects to play third base on Thursday.

Jed Hoyer said Wednesday during his weekly spot on David Kaplan’s show that Olt has a chance to make the team’s Opening Day roster. Olt is aware of his chances and is fighting for a spot. The Cubs were hoping to get him time at third base on Wednesday, but that did not happen. Hoyer said the team is happy with the way Olt is working counts and seeing pitches. Olt has huge power and Hoyer is hoping to see him at the hot corner. Olt reported to camp with the right attitude and he appears to have hit the reset button on his career the Cubs were thinking a break this winter would allow him to do.

Mike Olt is receiving a lot of attention from the media and the fan base right now. And that has to do with Olt possibly being the first of what many expect to be a wave of prospects to come up from the minors and help turn the big league team from cellar dwellers into contenders. Whether Olt is able to win the third base job or a spot on the Opening Day roster or not is still up in the air. But one thing is certain, it has been fun watching Mike Olt and Javier Baez punish the baseball this spring.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro took batting practice and grounders on Wednesday but did not run. Castro and the Cubs have not set a date on when he will return to the lineup. Bruce Levine reported Castro will play in minor league games prior to getting back into the Cubs lineup. Castro said his right hamstring continues to feel better.

Jed Hoyer said Wednesday the team is at a crucial point with Castro and they need for him to start playing in games soon. It is not to a point yet where he might miss the start of the season but it is getting close.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, a big year is still on Starlin Castro’s mind even with the setback he’s had this spring. Castro admitted he is frustrated after preparing all winter for this season. The report added that Castro will not have another MRI on his hamstring.

Fifth Starter

It is down to Carlos Villanueva and Chris Rusin for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ rotation. Jed Hoyer is pleased with the progress Jake Arrieta has made. Arrieta completed, what Hoyer labeled “a good bullpen” on Tuesday, and the team is hoping he is back soon. Hoyer confirmed the fifth starter job is down to Villanueva and Rusin. The Cubs are confident either pitcher can handle the job and they are getting close to making a decision.

News and Notes

When asked about the bullpen Wednesday, Jed Hoyer mentioned Neil Ramirez as a possibility for a role in the pen along with Justin Grimm.

Ryan Kalish is creating a buzz in camp according to a report from ESPN Chicago … and Rick Renteria said the team is trying to give him as many opportunities as possible. Kalish is a “baseball player” according to Renteria, one that “busts his rear end every single day.”

Javier Baez will not break camp with the big league team. Baez is going to start the season as Iowa’s shortstop. Baez still has things to work on, mainly plate discipline and pitch recognition. Baez has to learn how to layoff breaking pitches he cannot hit. Jed Hoyer said Wednesday the report that indicated Baez would play second base at Iowa was inaccurate.

Welington Castillo and Junior Lake got in some extra work in a minor league game at Cubs Park on Wednesday afternoon. Jason McLeod, Bill Mueller and Jose Castro were among those in attendance to watch Lake and Castillo hit.

Gary Jones is clicking with the youngsters according to a report from Cubs.com and is striking a cord with Starlin Castro and Javier Baez.

The Cubs launched Wrigley100.com on Wednesday.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"There are only two seasons ... winter and baseball." - Bill Veeck

Share on Fancred
  • Tony_H

    Scariest play in baseball, a liner back to the pitcher. And when you throw as hard as hard as Chapman, the ball comes back fast.

    Let’s hope and pray that he Aroldis’s injuries are not that severe.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/reds-pitcher-aroldis-chapman-carried-off-on-stretcher-after-getting-hit-in-head?ymd=20140319&content_id=69669716&vkey=news_mlb

    • Sonate

      I just want to agree with the observation (scariest play) and echo the sentiment about his health. I hope this does not adversely affect his ability to perform in the future. (We are all aware, I’m sure, about Herb Score’s difficulty after “recovering” from his injuries.)

  • Tony_H

    In era of safety, pitchers remain dangerously exposed.

    By Jon Paul Morosi

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/in-era-of-safety-pitchers-remain-dangerously-exposed-031914

  • Zonk

    Interesting thing about the 5th starter competition, whomever ends up in the bullpen, plus option concerns, could definitely factor in.

    Bullpen figures to include Veras, Strop, Russell, Wright. Probably Cabrera (out of options). That leaves two spots likely between Rondon, Parker, and Villanueva.

    Villanueva will be on the club in some capacity; if he’s 5th starter, probably both Parker and Rondon make the club. If he’s in the pen, Rusin makes the club, and one of Parker or Rondon is sent down. There are, then, two spots between Parker, Rondon, Rusin.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Olt is starting Thursday, playing 3B, hitting clean-up

    • redlarczykg

      Every time I hear Mike Olt’s name, I can’t stop thinking of Mel Ott. I know Mel had the high front kick in his swing. It’s just the name. But if Olt makes it, and with Baez close behind, it could turn out to be a very entreating season.