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Cubs to attend new rules workshop

MESA, Ariz. -- Rick Renteria will pay more attention to the new rules implemented by Major League Baseball after he and the other Cactus League managers attend a workshop Monday at the Salt River facility in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"I'm sure once I get them, it will be a part of my job to get the understanding of them and how I apply them," Renteria said after Saturday's workout. "It will be a part of my routine here this spring once I get them."

The biggest change will be MLB's new replay procedures, and managers will be able to test the challenge system during the exhibition season.

But another change that will be just as critical to the Cubs is the new rules designed to prevent catcher collisions. A detailed explanation of those rules are expected be issued shortly before Monday's meeting.

The Cubs have plenty of faith in starting catcher Welington Castillo, but their lack of depth caused them to acquire George Kottaras, John Baker and Eli Whiteside as backups in the offseason.

Eye on Olt: One of the early but pleasant surprises has been the power of Mike Olt, especially since he battled vision problems last season stemming from a concussion suffered in the Dominican Republic in November 2012.

Javier Baez, known for his power, noticed Friday that Olt has "some pop too" after Olt ripped several home runs in batting practice. Olt smacked 28 homers at Double-A Frisco in 2012.

"Everything is all good," said Olt, who no longer is on medication for his vision problems. "In live BP, I'm seeing the ball a lot better. Everything feels good right now."

Medical update: The chances of Jake Arrieta being ready by opening day appear slim. Arrieta said his right shoulder felt fine after playing catch from 90 feet, but he's still scheduled to throw off flat ground and a bullpen session isn't imminent.

"He has got quite a bit to go," Renteria said.

That strengthens the chances of James McDonald earning the fifth spot as long as he stays healthy.

Right fielder Nate Schierholtz returned after suffering a sore jaw from a collision Friday with center fielder Junior Lake during a communication drill.

"I didn't lose consciousness, but I saw stars for a second," Schierholtz said.

Extra innings: Second baseman Logan Watkins participated in drills at shortstop. Watkins has played 106 games at short in the minors. ... Josh Vitters, who moved from third to the outfield, worked at first base during rundown drills. ... Reliever Arodys Vizcaino, who hasn't pitched the last two seasons because of right elbow problems, continues to impress, Renteria said. ... Armando Rivero also displayed exceptional command of his breaking pitches to complement a 95-mph fastball.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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