MESA, Ariz. – Kris Bryant isn’t the third-base answer for your 2014 Cubs.
Bryant – the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft – is projected to begin this season at Double-A Tennessee. Mike Olt – the minor league player of the year for the Texas Rangers organization in 2012 – is a wild card as he comes back from concussion issues and vision problems.
Leading up to Wednesday’s first full-squad workout, new manager Rick Renteria pointed to the production the Cubs got from third basemen last season. Combined they hit .221 but generated 30 homers and 70 RBI. Cody Ransom will be playing in Japan while Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy are back. Non-roster utility guy Emilio Bonifacio has a good chance to make the team and add another dimension with his speed.
“Between the three, they made a pretty good solid one (last year),” Renteria said. “We’re going to continue to see these guys go out there and do their thing. We’ll use whatever means we have – and whatever flexibility we have – to make the best possible one that we can. If it happens to be one guy, it’s one guy. We’ll continue to mix-and-match.”
Olt put up 28 homers, 82 RBI and a .977 OPS in 95 games at Double-A Frisco in 2012 and then got hit by a pitch that offseason while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. His slow recovery made him available in last summer’s Matt Garza trade with Texas.
The Rangers had exposed Olt to first base and the outfield, and eventually the Cubs might need that kind of versatility.
“He’s hoping to come back and have a nice bounce back after his injury,” Renteria said. “We’ll leave all things open. But we view him as a third baseman and we never want to surprise anybody. We’ll deal with that if it comes to that at some point. But right now he’s a third baseman.”