CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs third base prospect Mike Olt knows there's a job opening at his position, but he isn't focused on winning it just yet.
Getting healthy was his main goal in 2013 and now that vision problems that plagued him are in the past, Olt, 25, is ready to return to being the power hitter he showed he was in the minors with the Texas Rangers.
"I'm excited for spring training," Olt said Wednesday. "I've worked hard. ... I feel really good. A little break was something I needed. The body feels good. The mental break feels great."
The former No. 1 pick from 2010 struggled throughout 2013, hitting .213 at Triple-A Round Rock for the Rangers and then just .168 at Iowa after being traded to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal in July. Last spring training he began to suffer from vision problems in his right eye and it affected his season.
"It was a freak accident," Olt said. "It happens in baseball. Last year I had to deal with a couple of things from it."
Olt's eye wasn't producing enough fluids, causing him to blink as the ball was coming. He was given special eye drops and now he believes the struggles are behind him.
"I don't feel like I have anything to prove," he said. "Last year was good for me dealing with a lot of adversity making me a better player."
Olt hit 28 home runs in 2012 at Double-A, so the power is there. Last season he still hit 15 home runs despite all the struggles.
"I did have some problems with that," he said. "I think it's definitely in the past."
With only Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy standing in his way, Olt has a good chance to win the third base job out of spring training. But timing is crucial as top pick of 2013, third baseman Kris Bryant, isn't far off from the majors.