Olt embraces new opportunity with Padres

March 29th, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Very little about Mike Olt's career has gone as planned, but then again, baseball rarely follows a script.

The bulking 28-year-old infielder -- once a top prospect in the Rangers' organization -- is currently looking to catch on in the Padres' Minor League system, after being released by the White Sox earlier this spring.

During Monday's 11-3 loss to Kansas City, Olt made his first appearance with the big league club, starting at third base and going 0-for-3.

"The game's hard; sometimes it doesn't go the way you want it to go," said Olt, who has been taking reps in Minor League camp. "I think I've learned a lot from not being able to be grounded in one spot. It kind of keeps you humble, and it keeps you focused. Right now, I'm really enjoying the Padres and the opportunity I'm going to have."

Though Olt has 135 games of Major League experience, there isn't a fit for him on the big league roster. He plays first base and third base -- two positions of strength for the Padres, and two positions with ample backup options already.

But Olt isn't concerned about his role within the organization. He's got a few things to prove before he gets another big league chance.

"My job right now is to just be ready for anything," Olt said. "I'll be ready to play wherever they need me. I'm going to make sure I'm getting the work in, and I'm ready for the opportunity."

In 2012, Olt was ranked among the game's top 50 prospects, and he even started at third base in the All-Star Futures Game. He batted .288/.398/.579 that season with 28 homers in 354 at-bats for Double-A Frisco.

But the following spring, Olt struggled mightily and began having serious problems with his vision and depth perception.

"It really wasn't vision problems," Olt said. "[It was] a lot of concussion-related stuff. It took some time. The last two years have been really good for me. I feel like it's in the past. It's something I try not to focus on, and now I'm starting to see my ability to come through again."

Olt took a step forward in 2014, with his batting average nearly doubling for Triple-A Iowa. He began the '15 season on the Cubs' roster, but didn't appear in another game for the club after Kris Bryant got his callup.

Now, Olt finds himself with the Friars -- a low-risk move for the organization, and a chance for Olt to establish some stability.

"Any team you go to is a fresh slate," Olt said. "This is definitely a good opportunity for me to get comfortable and redefine my career."