Mike Olt joined Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette during Thursday’s Power Alley (MLB Network Radio).
Mike Olt talked about his rookie season and the mechanical adjustments he made to his swing with Brian Harper. Olt has been at the Cubs facility since December working out and preparing for the upcoming season.
After last year, Mike Olt knows he has a lot to prove and he plans to do whatever it takes to win the Cubs’ third base job this spring.
On how his winter has been and how much he’s looking forward to the start of Spring Training
“The winter has been great. I was able to go home for about two months after the season and see the family and friends. I got out here in December and started working out. I was pretty eager to get back on the field and kind of start things up again.”
On if this winter was more normal for him than last off-season
“Yeah, I would say it was a lot more normal. Last winter I had to deal with an arm injury that kind of threw things off, especially with lifting and trying to get back into the program for Spring Training. This year I feel like I’m definitely way ahead of schedule and everything is looking up.”
“With the workouts, I think the biggest thing I’m trying to focus on is getting my arm ready to go for, you know, a full season. I’ve always had an issue with some arm problems. Last year I think I did a good job of kind of keeping that healthy and staying on the arm program. This year I just continued to do all of that. I’m just trying to build up a little more muscle than last year and see what happens from there.”
On how he tries to balance building up muscle without losing the flexibility a baseball player needs offensively and defensively
“I’m not really flexible in general, so it’s kind of tough for me to do that. But I have been doing a little bit of yoga and just some little things trying to keep that going. I’m not trying to do body building stuff. Right now it’s mainly just kind of getting as much of the heavy weight lifting as I can and then during the season kind of maintain that with a lot of lighter stuff so that helps during the season.”
On what he learned from the time he spent in Triple-A last season and how he’s applied it this off-season preparing for Spring Training
“I think last year, before I got sent down, we definitely figured out some of the things that was going on with my swing. It was just tough to really get in the game and execute how to get past those little holes in my swing. When I did get sent down I was able to play every day and worked with our hitting coach there [Iowa Cubs, Brian Harper] and was able to kind of simplify everything. I think that’s basically going to be the biggest thing, I guess all hitters, when you get to a certain level you try and simplify everything because these guys are definitely better than the rest. I think if I can keep everything simple, it just helps me out and I stay more consistent.”
On recognizing the holes in the swing, did he make more mechanical adjustments or did he make plan-based adjustments?
“It was more mechanical, which I think is the best thing because athletes can kind of make adjustments, I think, easily. It’s the mental side of baseball, if you don’t have that it’s kind of tough to understand it. A lot of it was … I had a lot of things going on with my swing. It was a lot of movement, a lot of head movement, which was not allowing me to pick up the pitches as well. I think just a couple of little minor tweaks were just what I needed and got me back on track.”
On if it was difficult to correct the head movement he had in his swing
“Not really. I thought it was because my whole plan was, going down to Triple-A, I was going to make those changes and I didn’t care if I went 0-for-50 or 0-for-75, I just wanted to try and create a better swing that is going to make me more consistent in the long run. I don’t want to go down to Triple-A and have the same swing and do well in Triple-A, come back up to the big leagues and not made any strides to getting better. I think it came easily for me. It’s something that I had to focus on for maybe the first couple of games then all of a sudden, it just kind of came more naturally and I never really thought about it since then.”
On how much he feels the lack of at bats at the Triple-A level had an impact on him as he was adjusting to big league pitching
“I don’t think it had any real impact. I think, especially last year another good thing I took out of it was I never walked back into the dugout and felt like I was overmatched by any pitcher. I feel like I got myself out a lot. To a lot of people that are watching I guess could think differently, but it was all about me getting myself out and confidence and the mechanical changes. I don’t think that had anything to do with pitchers or not seeing enough quality pitchers. I think I was ready for it. I think I just had a little funk where I got myself out a lot.”
On was it difficult mentally coming back from getting hit?
“It was and it took me a while to kind of realize that it was. I never once said anything was bothering me or anything like that. But when I did come back obviously I wasn’t the same hitter as much as I wanted to think that I was. I think it wasn’t until last year where later in the season I started to talk to some people about it and that kind of opened my eyes to a lot of things. It really took a lot of weight off my shoulders. I think that was another turning point in the season for me.”
On what he was talking to people about, more concussion-related issues or more just getting back into the flow of the game after being hit?
“It was more, kind of a mental side of it than just the concussion part of it and what it can really do to a hitter and what it can do to anybody. I think it was more of understanding all of that after talking to concussion specialists for the first time. It kind of opened my eyes. When I was with Texas, Texas did a great job of trying to get me to see every doctor possible. They knew something was wrong with me, I wasn’t the same hitter. I knew something was wrong but I think we were all kind of going off the wrong things and saying it could be something to do a lot with my eyes and all of this stuff. When really it was actually like more of a mental, kind of block I was going through. I made some serious strides last year and continue this year with everything and it’s finally turning up.”
On if he’s talked to Joe Maddon and if he’s excited about some of the changes with the team
“I haven’t talked to him for an extended period of time. I met him at the convention. But I’ve heard stories from guys that I’ve played with. Especially younger guys that are on our team with him coaching, it’s going to be fun to have a guy like that. I do like having a loose atmosphere, kind of letting everybody go about and do their business. As long as we are doing everything we can to win, I think he’s going to be the guy to kind of kick back and enjoy it with us.”
On the third base job being open now and does he go into Spring Training planning to win the job?
“Definitely. It’s the one thing I’m trying, I’m working for all off-season is trying to win that job. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win it and I’ve got a lot to prove. It’s not about what you can say at this point. Just getting excited to get back on the field and finally showing that I’m capable of doing it.”
The interview wrapped up with a conversation about the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl. Mike Olt is a Patriots fan, and was shocked about the play call that led to the interception.