Jeff Baker, Feb. 22 against the Royals.
When the Texas Rangers optioned 12 players out of big-league camp on Tuesday, there was no doubt the biggest story to come out of the moves was the fact that one of their top prospects, Mike Olt, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, meaning he won't start the season with the Rangers.
Two things played into that decision to not give Olt a spot on the big-league bench despite his defensive versatility and power bat.
First of all, Olt just wasn't very good in his spring training opportunities, hitting just .194. The biggest problem for Olt was a growing strikeout problem, which resulted in him fanning 12 times in 31 at-bats — more than once every three at-bats.
But the bigger reason is the play of journeyman utility player Jeff Baker, who is trying to make the Rangers' roster after spending 2012 with three different teams — Cubs, Tigers and Braves. He plays first base, second base, third base and both corner outfield positions, but most importantly, he's absolutely raked the ball this spring.
In his 45 spring at-bats, the 32-year-old has hit .467 with an on-base percentage of .500 and a .622 slugging percentage. He's hit a homer and has seven RBIs, right up at the top among Rangers players for spring RBIs.
Olt will now have to wait longer to earn a permanent role with the Rangers, or be traded elsewhere. His natural position is third base, which is obviously owned by Adrian Beltre for the time being.