The Texas Rangers‘ outfield shuffle could get even more complicated (or simple, depending on your point of view) if Mike Olt flourishes in his right field work this spring. All indications are the Rangers are expecting just that, which is convenient since the team is also preparing for a possible 50-game suspension for Nelson Cruz. Texas has interesting position battles going on in center and left field, but Cruz was really the only option in right field until Olt’s name came up.
It really makes sense considering Olt’s skill set is so versatile. He did a solid job at the plate and at first base during his 16 MLB games as a rookie in 2012. In addition, his attitude and mindset are also indispensable as he says he doesn’t care what decision the Rangers make regarding his position and/or playing time. Olt says he’ll do whatever the teams needs him to do and Texas is confident he’ll do it well.
Olt was superb with Double-A Frisco last year with a .288 average, 28 home runs and 82 RBI and then recorded a hit on his first big league at-bat in August. He struggled later on because of plantar fasciitis, but showed so much promise with a great combination of quickness and strength. The former, along with his overall versatility, earned Olt the opportunity to compete for the starting right field job this year, assuming Cruz is absent for at leads a part of the season.
Jeff Baker and Lance Berkman are on the Rangers’ depth chart as backups to Cruz in right field, but it’s safe to say Berkman probably won’t be playing much in the field this year and it’s also safe to assume that Olt can beat Baker out of the job. The Rangers may start Olt at Triple-A Round Rock for more preparation for his outfield duties, but that tentative plan could change depending on his performance the spring. Either way, Olt’s appearance in the Rangers’ outfield is inevitable.