Cubs prospect Mike Olt had a rough 2013. He posted a meager .739 OPS with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock. Then the Rangers traded him to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. With Triple-A Iowa, Olt posted a .551 OPS in 152 plate appearances. He was bothered by vision issues, a symptom of a concussion he suffered after getting hit by a pitch while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
According to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, Olt’s vision problems have cleared up and he’s ready to bounce back in 2014.
“I don’t mind answering [the question, “How are you seeing the ball?”] anymore,” Olt says. “Last year was so stressful because we didn’t know what was going on. I don’t mind answering that this year because I’m better.”
Olt has only taken batting practice against coaches and a few rips against Cubs pitchers, but already he knows he feels better than a year ago. Now it’s about finding his swing again — he hit 28 home runs at Double-A for Texas in 2012.
“I haven’t had any problems so far,” he said.
Rogers notes that Olt, a third baseman by trade, has been taking grounders at first base to make himself more versatile to the team. Luis Valbuena is expected to start the season as the team’s everyday third baseman. The Cubs would love nothing more than for Olt to have a great spring and give them a tough decision to make at the hot corner.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.