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Olt homers in return from vision issues

Rangers No. 2 prospect caps RoughRiders' longball outburst
May 31, 2013

Mike Olt can see clearly now, and the ball is gone.

The Rangers' No. 2 prospect returned to action Friday night after vision problems limited him to a .139 batting average at Triple-A. He spent the month visiting eye doctors and specialists, who determined his right tear duct had problems producing moisture.

In his first game back, Olt belted a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the finishing touch on Double-A Frisco's 7-4 victory over Tulsa.

For the 24-year-old third baseman, who led the Texas League with 28 homers and made his Major League debut last season, it was a homecoming in a couple ways.

"It feels really good to finally be able to feel like myself again," Olt said. "Obviously, when we couldn't figure things out and I couldn't see the ball, that was a frustrating time. Tonight it felt good to just work toward finding my normal timing and being able to see the ball."

Olt began to experience trouble in Spring Training, when he couldn't make out the spin on the ball. He believes the problem stems from a concussion he sustained last November after being hit in the head in the Dominican Winter League. He had no trouble reading or going about daily life, but he noticed a change when he stepped onto the field.

"It only really happened when I was trying to focus pretty hard, at the plate or fielding. When I put a lot of focus into that, I'd blink or move my eyes quickly and everything would get all blurry," Olt said. "I really couldn't follow the ball well like that."

When doctors discovered the root of the problem and prescribed the right eye drops, Olt likened it to a miracle cure. "It was within the first hour," that he was able to see normally again, he said.

"It was like night and day. That was such a huge relief. It was a long month, going back to different doctors and nobody being able to say what was wrong. It was a stressful month, but once we figured out what was wrong, it was like I could sleep a little bit better at night.

"Texas was great. The organization did a great job. They said, 'We're not going to stop until we figure out what's going on.' They brought in the best doctors, and the doctors did a great job, too."

The University of Connecticut product struck out in his first two at-bats. And even though his only goal for returning to action was being able to rediscover his timing at the plate, he was frustrated by those whiffs.

"It's obviously tough, especially being a competitive guy. I expect a lot of myself. In this situation, you've got to keep telling yourself, 'Hey, don't worry about it. That's not really what today's about,'" he said. "Early on in my career, I had games where I tried to press to hard, and you end up with three or four strikeouts.

"Learning from that helped. You learn that the game has ups and downs and you can't get too upset about that."

In the meantime, five of Olt's teammates homered. Joe Benson, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins a week ago, clubbed his fourth roundtripper in six games with his new organization. Chih-Hsien Chiang, Ryan Strausborger and Odubel Herrera went back-to-back-to-back in the fourth inning as five of the six hits given up by Drillers starter Christian Bergman (3-4) cleared the fence.

Facing Bergman leading off the sixth, Olt smacked a long fly ball that was caught on the warning track in left. He wasn't disappointed, nor did he feel any pressure to join in on the homerfest.

"No, I wasn't thinking like that today," he said. "My main goal was to get back my timing and see the ball well. If I was going to be able to do anything, to do well, that was an extra bonus."

That bonus came in his final at-bat in the eighth when he sent a 1-2 pitch from Steven Henley out of the park for a two-run homer.

"I think the first couple at-bats, I was basically trying to feel it out. I was not aggressive at all. My swings were hesitant -- was I going to swing or not?" Olt said. "My last two at-bats, I was getting comfortable, really being able to see the ball and make better swings."

Olt's wasn't the only homecoming Friday. Alexi Ogando (1-0) started his rehab assignment by allowing a pair of unearned runs on four hits over six innings, striking out four without walking a batter.

"It was great. He's always fun to watch," Olt said. "He did a great job, he kept us in the game. He was constantly throwing strikes."

Rafael Ortega, the Rockies' 15th-ranked prospect doubled, singled, walked and scored a run for the Drillers.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to