The Los Angeles Dodgers outfield has been stretched quite thin with injuries to Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig. Because of this, the surplus at third base has resulted in Alex Guerrero spending plenty of time in left field recently.
With Howie Kendrick’s status moving forward in question due to a knee issue, the infield is beginning to run thin as well. However, with almost perfect timing, Hector Olivera made his long-awaited professional debut as he started at third base for Double-A Tulsa on Thursday.
Olivera’s debut was a wild one, as the Drillers lost the game 9-3 in 14 innings. However, it allowed for the Cuban native to make six plate appearances, going 1-for-4 with two walks. He was replaced defensively in the 12th inning. Drillers manager Razor Shines had high praise for Olivera after the game, via Jake Seiner of MiLB.com:
For a guy that hasn’t played in that long, his at-bats were really good,” Shines said. “He had quality at-bats. He picked up his first base hit. He had a couple of balls defensively in the infield and he handled them well. He looked really good.”
Olivera’s first professional hit came in the third inning, as he reached on a soft ground ball up the middle that was stopped by an infielder, but Olivera beat it out for an infield single.
The 30 year old is versatile and can play second and third base, which further aids his case for being called up to the Majors at some point this point. Although Olivera is not likely the immediate replacement for Kendrick at this time, he could be if the knee injury persists.
In 10 seasons in the Cuban professional league, Olivera hit 96 home runs and drove in 433 runs. The infielder will certainly provide relief for an injury-prone Dodgers this season and profiles as a bat that can be placed in the middle of the order.