Catching up with… Mike Olt
Occasionally throughout the off-season we will spend some time catching up with former RoughRiders. In this edition, we hear from Rangers rookie Mike Olt, who spent most of the 2012 season in Frisco. A Mid-Season and Postseason Texas League All-Star, Olt played in 95 games for the RoughRiders, hitting .288 with 28 home runs and 82 RBI. He was called up directly to the Texas Rangers on August 2 but has been hampered by a foot injury in most of his time as a big leaguer. ‘Riders broadcaster Alex Vispoli caught up with Mike at a recent Rangers home game to reflect on making the Majors and his time with Frisco.
Alex Vispoli: When you found out you were going up, was that a surprise for you or were you expecting it?
Mike Olt: No, it was definitely a surprise. It was weird how in those last couple of days they were trying to do some [different] things with me, especially playing first base on back-to-back days. But really going into the office I thought they were going to talk to me about what my plan was because the trade deadline was over, what they wanted me to shoot for. I knew I was ready, and then when they were able to say I was getting the call up, it was quite the feeling.
AV: I know Frisco manager Steve Buechele has had creative ways of telling guys that they are being promoted, the one with Justin Grimm comes to mind. If I remember correctly, he was telling you the route to get down to Round Rock?
MO: Yeah, he said to pack my car up and try and head out early to go to Round Rock and he kept the story going the whole time, he probably talked about for five minutes just to stay focused and keep doing what I’m doing, don’t change anything. And then, just when I’m leaving he’s like “make sure you’re in Arlington in time for C.J. Wilson.” So that was good, that’s something I’ll never forget.
AV: What are the emotions you’re feeling at that point, where’s your heart at that moment?
MO: Oh, I couldn’t talk. And that’s the first time in my life I probably couldn’t talk. I was just really excited. You always hear stories about [getting promoted to the big leagues]; I have some buddies that got called up and they tell you what their feelings are and you can understand where they’re coming from, but when you feel that [yourself] then you really understand what it’s like, you just get goose bumps. It’s everything you’ve worked for.
AV: Just in terms of the roller coaster for you, I remember talking to you the week or so leading up to the trading deadline and we weren’t really sure what was going to happen. You were trusting whatever the plan was and I guess the plan all along was to get you right up there after the trade deadline. Looking back on it the whole range of emotions must have made it both a little fun and at the time a little stressful.
MO: It was, but I did my best to block it all out. And I always said I was definitely able to block it out but there were times when I just wanted to know what was going on. When it was all over with that was definitely relieving, but I definitely did know that I was in a good situation either way so that helped.
AV: You had a base hit in your first Major League at bat. What’s going through your head when you step into the batter’s box in a big league game for the first time and then you connect on that base hit? Hitter’s always talk about getting that first hit early in a game to take some stress off the rest of the way and that you got a hit in your first-ever at bat must have been a weight off of your shoulders.
MO: I was nervous during the day but when it got to game time and I got out there and walked into the box it really felt like just another at bat. I tried to make it as close to normal as I could. Obviously facing C.J. Wilson it’s tougher to stay within your approach against a guy like that. But I wasn’t nervous which helped me stay [within myself] and not try to do too much so that helped.
AV:Have you had a moment yet where you’ve taken a step back and said to yourself “Wow, I’m in the big leagues.”? Have you had a “welcome to the big leagues” type of moment that you can remember where all of a sudden you realize that you’re not in the Texas League any more?
MO: That happened the first day, even with just the crowd. It’s a totally different feeling when you have 45,000 fans cheering for you, that’s a great feeling. And then in my second at bat I hit a ball up in the hole and a guy makes a “Top Play” on it. I get back to the dugout and that was a time where it was like “welcome to the big leagues.” That usually doesn’t get caught in Double-A.
AV: Unless it’s [Jurickson] Profar, right?
MO: Right [laughs]. No, I would have taken care of him if he caught it.
AV: Has it been nice to see four guys [Wilmer Font, Justin Grimm, Jurickson Profar and Robbie Ross] that you played with in the Minors on the big league roster now with you? Guys that you came up playing with, to play alongside them has that been a fun experience for you?
MO: Yeah, definitely. It always helps to have guys that you’ve played with and that you’re comfortable with. Especially because it’s a good group of young guys mixed with the good group of older guys. The veteran guys really show us the way and they make it really easy for us up here. Some of the other guys from other teams that I talk to, for them it’s a little of a different atmosphere. Not once when you’re here do the veteran guys make you feel like a rookie, so that also helps.
AV: How tough has it been just with the fact that you haven’t been able to get on the field in being a rookie and also with the injuries? Unfortunately you’ve had plenty of practice overcoming the minor injuries, but it’s still an adjustment.
MO: No, this isn’t the way I want to start my career with something as small as plantar fasciitis. I don’t even know how I got it; I don’t know how it happened or why it had to happen in the first four days of my big league career. But I was still able to get a lot out of [the experience here] while I was hurt and on the bench. I’ve learned a ton and I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and incorporate it with how I go about my business and improve.
AV: How proud were you of your Frisco teammates, following them from afar and seeing what they accomplished without you and without Profar?
MO: I watched every step of the way and I kept in contact with a bunch of the guys. I knew they didn’t need Profar or myself to win it; they had a great team and great pitching, timely hitting and that’s what we were going to need and we got it for the most part but came up a little short. So that’s tough but it was a great year and I have a lot of good memories there.