Texas notes: Olt knows about change

Frisco third baseman comfortable with growing more versatile

By Todd Traub / Special to MLB.com | April 24, 2012 6:24 AM ET

Mike Olt may entertain himself with a few windups and pitches while he shags balls during batting practice, but don't read anything into it. The Frisco third baseman isn't considering a move to the mound. He's got enough to think about already.

"I can't pitch," Olt said. "No way. Just having fun."

Olt entered the season as the Texas Rangers' No. 3 prospect after moving to third base from shortstop, his position at the University of Connecticut. He has also, at the Rangers' urging, tried a little first base and outfield.

When you're trying to crack the roster of a World Series contender, you're open to new ideas.

"We did a little bit of first base in Spring Training," Olt said. "I just have to get more comfortable over there. They want me to do a little bit of outfield, but with the team we have up there, they're so talented in every spot, I'm just trying to become more versatile so if they need me in a certain spot I'm ready. I told them whatever they need, I'm willing to try."

For now Olt is happy to log his time at third, even if the Rangers have Adrian Beltre signed at the position through 2015. And who knows? Third may be exactly where Olt winds up.

"You've got to get used to hard-hit balls," Olt said of the hot corner. "It's more of a reaction spot. I always thought I had pretty good reactions, so that's what made that transition [from shortstop] really easy."

Wherever he is penciled in, Olt hopes this will be his first full pro season after a broken collarbone limited him to 69 games at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach last year.

He was a first-round pick out of Connecticut in 2010, signing for $717,300. After hitting .293 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs at short-season Spokane, Olt was on his way to an MVP-quality season at Myrtle Beach, with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs, before a home-plate collision just before the All-Star break cost him the rest of his year.

"It was just a freak baseball accident," he said. "A bloop single to right field, ninth inning, tie ballgame, we were going for it. I just went in there and kind of lowered my shoulder, and when I came up the catcher was lowering his shoulder. It was just kind of the way we collided, it just snapped. It wasn't a pleasant feeling."

Olt wrapped up his season with three months of rehab in Arizona, then hit .349 in the Arizona Fall League. He was pain-free when he began Spring Training with the two-time defending American League champion Rangers.

"The way they practice and the way they go about their business, it's fun to watch," Olt said. "And being a guy in this organization, I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to try to see what I can do to make it up there."

Olt, hitting .271 with four home runs and eight RBIs to open the season, said he hasn't set specific goals this year other than to work on his overall plate approach.

"As long as we have an approach and have some sort of gameplan at the plate, that's basically what they're striving for," Olt said. "I think it took time for me to come up with something, and I think as you mature as a baseball player you start to learn an approach."

In brief

Bouncing back: After being shut out by Frisco on Thursday, Corpus Christi responded with an 11-3 victory on Saturday. The Hooks scored all their runs before the seventh inning and batted nine men in a four-run sixth.

Fattening up: The Arkansas Travelers, batting a league-worst .225, rallied for five runs in the ninth on Thursday to beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, 6-5, in their first meeting. Following Friday's rainout, the Travs kept up the offense and beat the Naturals in Saturday's doubleheader, 7-1 and 10-3, as they victimized a staff with a league-worst 6.94 ERA. The Travs capped the series with an 8-4 victory Sunday to improve to 8-8 on the season.

Slow start: Midland first baseman Michael Spina, who led the RockHounds with 75 RBIs last year, has driven in 11 runs in 15 games despite starting the season in a 4-for-57 slump (.070).

Todd Traub is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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