Before Kris Bryant became the third-base star in Chicago, the Cubs had another promising power hitter at the position.

Mike Olt was the opening-day starter in both 2014 and ’15.

Now he’s in Portland, playing for the Double-A Sea Dogs.

And he’s smiling.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve missed so much baseball, I understand how much fun it is,” Olt said. “For me, to be healthy and playing again … I enjoy every moment.”

Olt, 28, always has battled injuries. In 2014 he scuffled in 89 major league games, batting .160 – but with 12 home runs. Olt dealt with ongoing issues from a concussion and blurry vision, the result of being hit by a pitch more than a year earlier.


In 2015, Olt felt healthy. He found himself entrenched in a controversy in spring training because Bryant was being kept in the minors – prolonging his future major league time with the Cubs – while Olt got the job.

“My goal was to keep him down there as long as I could,” Olt said. “That would mean we were doing well. But then I got hurt.

In the Cubs’ fourth game, in Colorado, Olt swatted a third-inning home run off Kyle Kendrick (now with the Red Sox organization).

Olt came to bat in the ninth and was hit on the right wrist by Adam Ottavino. Olt played two more games but the wrist finally was diagnosed with a fracture.

“A wrist injury for a power hitter … it took a while to get my power back. That was a whole year,” Olt said.

Coming back, Olt played a month in Triple-A before the Cubs designated him for assignment in September. The White Sox picked him up and he crossed town, playing 24 games.


In 2016 the White Sox released Olt in spring training and the Padres signed him. He lasted until June, when a severe case of plantar fasciitis in both feet sidelined him. He had surgery in his right foot.

“I’ve had some bad luck with injuries,” Olt said.

You think?

The Padres granted Olt free agency after the season and the former major leaguer was out of work. No one was calling.

“It was tough to have numbers last year for people to look at,” said Olt, who invited teams to a workout. “Did a bunch of running, agility drills, conditioning for the scouts to see … the Red Sox liked what they saw.”

Olt is known for his glove, but he would get a lot of time as the designated hitter with Boston’s No 1 prospect, Rafael Devers, at third, and another prospect, Nick Longhi, at first.


“Wherever they need me,” Olt said. “As long as I’m healthy and I get at-bats, I’ll be ready.”

You don’t always find this attitude in a minor league free agent, especially one with big-league time. Olt was a first-round draft pick out of the University of Connecticut by the Rangers and traded to the Cubs for Matt Garza. Every time it looked like he was getting his break, something broke.

But the smile remains. No bitterness?

“There’s no reason to be. Everyone has bad luck. It’s just how you handle it,” Olt said. “I realize how much I love the game and that helps me be positive.”

Olt hit his 10th home run for Portland on Tuesday night. He had only two in April but is coming along.

“I’m used to it. I start off slow a lot,” he said. “But I know everything will fall into place and I’ll be where I need to be.”

For now he brings a veteran presence and a little oomph.

“He’s good in the clubhouse – leads by example, works hard,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said. “Lately he’s hitting the big homers for us. That’s what we’ve been hoping for.”

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