On Tuesday the Arizona League Dodgers faced the AZL Athletics. Normally, a rookie league game generally doesn’t feature players who figure to help the Major League club anytime soon. However, three rehabbing players who may factor into the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season suited up in the contest.
Among them was Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who is coming off a strained hamstring. After debuting with Double-A Tulsa, the 30 year old was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was batting .387 with a .968 OPS. The hamstring injury has cost him two and a half weeks of game action.
Olivera was the designated hitter Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a walk before being replaced in the ninth inning. He likely won’t need too many more appearances in Arizona before returning to OKC. It’s uncertain when he’ll be promoted to the Majors, given the abundance of infielders currently on the roster. However, Olivera certainly should contribute to the Dodgers at some point this season.
Olivera’s fellow countryman, Pablo Fernandez, also made an appearance for the AZL Dodgers on Tuesday. The 25-year-old right-hander went 2.2 innings, striking out five, allowing one home run and issuing a walk to the final two batters faced. According to Bill Mitchell, Fernandez was sitting 88-89 with his fastball and throwing a curveball around 80 MPH.
With the Dodgers’ rash of starting pitching injuries, Fernandez could find himself higher on the depth chart than expected. However, in converting from a relief pitcher, he needs to continue to build up innings before he can be counted on to make a Major League start. Fernnadez recently was sidelined with some shoulder stiffness.
The third player making a rehab appearance was Trevor Cahill, the former Atlanta Braves pitcher whom the Dodgers signed to a minor league deal last week. A starter for most of his career, Cahill had been working in relief for Atlanta, but hadn’t been productive, posting an ERA of 7.52 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts.
The Dodgers must have seen something they can work with, sending him to Arizona to get back on track. Cahill tossed 1.2 innnings, striking out four, but also allowing three unearned runs on three hits. The Oceanside native will need to work hard to regain his 2012 form, when he pitched 200 innings and produced a 2.7 fWAR.
Of the three, Olivera has the best chance of joining the Major League club this season, given how close he was before his injury. Fernandez is seen as a back-of-the-rotation starter and desperately needs innings before he’ll be ready.
Cahill is a work in progress, but hopefully the Dodgers can turn him around and have him contributing to the team, be it out of the bullpen or the rotation. Depth is always a positive and it’s just a matter of time before these three can provide it.