It’s been some time since it was announced that the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a six-year deal with Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but not much has been heard about the 29-year-old since.
Olivera was pursued by many teams this winter, and eventually, the Dodgers won the bidding war for his services. The right-handed hitting infielder is supposed to bring depth to the Dodgers, along with the possibility of taking a starting spot by 2016. This season was always an uncertainty for Olivera because of his possible Tommy John surgery and the adjustment period moving to a new country.
According to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, he’s yet to start that acclimation process:
However, Olivera remains in the Dominican Republic, waiting for a visa. When he gets one, he will fly to Los Angeles for a physical examination, which will not be routine because of concerns over the condition of his right elbow.
Spring Training is two days from coming to an end and the Dodgers are still waiting for Olivera’s final physical. Once he does make it to the U.S., the team has a plan for the infielder:
If Olivera passes his physical, the Dodgers would send him to the minor leagues. Olivera has not played professionally in two of the last three years, and the Dodgers want to assess his ability at third base, second base and perhaps first base while he gets back into game shape.
The situation is similar to that of Alex Guerrero last season, but Guerrero’s visa issues only caused him to miss extra workouts before the spring. He was able to participate in all of Spring Training and even made the Australia roster. Guerrero did struggle to the new country and had a variety of issues keep him from making an impact on the big league team.
The Dodgers will have to hope that Olivera can get his visa sooner rather than later, and that his adjustment period will go better than that of Guerrero.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Scott Van Slyke