Olt put in plenty of work to earn start in opener

Olt put in plenty of work to earn start in opener

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Olt has heard from friends, family, college coaches, past teammates and nearly everyone he's come in contact with in his baseball career. They all know how hard he's worked to be on a Major League team's Opening Day roster, and Monday was the day.

"I knew if I took care of what happened last year and put it in the past -- the month off, resting, getting away from the game a little bit was huge for me," he said. "I've got a clear mind and I'm ready to go."

Olt is one of two rookies on the Cubs' Opening Day roster, along with reliever Brian Schlitter, but he's one of a few comeback candidates. After struggling with vision problems, the once untradeable third baseman was included in a package last July and sent to the Cubs from the Rangers for Matt Garza.

After a strong spring, he found out Monday morning when he walked into the PNC Park visitors' clubhouse that he was starting at third base.

"I came in here and it was exciting to see," he said. "Last night, I made sure I was ready just in case. I didn't get much sleep."

He's gotten support not only from family and friends, but also Cubs fans, especially during Spring Training.

"Walking to the field, the fans are out there cooking out [in Mesa, Ariz.], and they were all cheering for me and pushing for me and wishing me the best of luck," he said. "The [Cubs] Convention was the same way -- 'Hey, looking forward to seeing you play.' That does go a long way for a player, especially coming off a season [like he did] -- I could've heard a lot worse things."

Monday was a very gratifying day.

"I talked to a bunch of the guys -- there's nothing like Opening Day," Olt said. "It's something you'll remember for the rest of your life.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.