Chicago Cubs third baseman Mike Olt was placed on the 60-day disabled list almost two months ago. The 26-year-old slugger had a hairline fracture in his right wrist after being hit by a pitch in Colorado. It has been a strenuous road to recovery for Olt — who has documented his rehab via his Twitter account.
The above video was a big step in Olt’s road back from the disabled list as he took live batting practice. Being capable to take swings in the batting cages was the last hurdle for Olt — who recently had his cast removed — to conquer before beginning his rehab assignment in the minors. The last question is where will Olt be when he is activated from the DL?
Still with minor league options, the Cubs could theoretically activate Olt and leave him in Triple-A going forward. Not a lot of fans would blame them after the lackluster numbers he has posted in his two seasons playing for the Chicago’s North Side club. While with Chicago, he has hit an abysmal .158 with a putrid .245 on-base percentage. Power was Olt’s calling card while coming up as a touted hitting prospect in the Texas Rangers’ farm system, however his mediocre .354 slugging percentage in 95 games with the Cubs has proven that to be a misnomer.
I believe, despite all of this, the Cubs should give Olt another chance.
As it stands, the Cubs’ bench consists of David Ross at catcher, utility infielder Jonathan Herrera, corner outfielder Mike Baxter and fourth outfielder Chris Denorfia. Not exactly a star-studded cast of reserve players, to say the least. Denorfia was just recently activated from the DL himself and could prove to be a valuable bat off the bench for Joe Maddon‘s squad, while Ross has been admirable in reserve duty. That leaves the light-hitting Herrera and the anonymous Baxter to consider. Both appear to have minor league options, which would make finding room for Olt pretty simple.
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Herrera has an unsightly .232/.246/.269 slash line in 52 at-bats for the Cubs in 2015. Baxter is doing even worse in a very small sample size. It seems like the answer would be to send Baxter packing back to Iowa. No designation for assignment would be required as Olt’s reinstatement would put the Cubs at 40 men on their 40-man roster. By adding another 3B, Maddon can toy around with Kris Bryant in left field going forward. Of course, that would require Olt to consistently hit — his defense has been solid at the hot corner.
Olt is eligible to be activated from the DL on June 17, which is the day the Cubs begin five games in a row using the designated hitter. He would almost certainly require a healthy amount of rehab games so unless his assignment begins this week, it seems unlikely the Cubs would activate Olt in time to bolster the DH-ready lineup. Still, some extra pop is necessary for a Cubs’ roster that has none of it on the bench. His motivation seems to be off the charts when you scan his Twitter account during his recovery — let’s see if there are any results.