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Andrew Friedman on Hector Olivera: 'He's going to come up at some point this year and help us win games'

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Third base or second base seem the most likely positions for new Dodgers infielder Hector Olivera.
Third base or second base seem the most likely positions for new Dodgers infielder Hector Olivera.
Photo: Matt Hall | Guerrero Baseball Academy

LOS ANGELES -- With infielder Hector Olivera now on board officially, his Dodgers career will begin at the club's training facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Tuesday.

"He'll be [in Arizona] for a week or so before heading to [Class-A Rancho Cucamonga] for a few games. We're kind of treating that a little bit like a spring training," Friedman said. "Then we'll get him to [Triple-A] Oklahoma City for a while, and reassess at that point."

Olivera, 30, hasn't played in competitive games since the 2013-2014 season in La Serie Nacional in Cuba, though he has been playing and working out at the Dodgers' camp at Campo Las Palmas.

"We had him at our camp in the Dominican for the last month, and had a chance to have our guys spend time with him and be around him, watch the body and see how he bounces back day after day," Friedman said. "Our guys feel really good about him health-wise."

The Dodgers gave Olivera $62.5 million over six years, including a $28 million signing bonus, amid rumors his health was in question. Friedman said the market dictated the contract, and Olivera mentioned that he was courted by other teams, specifically mentioning the Giants, Braves and Marlins, and that the Dodgers had so many Cuban players helped tip the scales in their favor.

"He came through the medical exam with Dr. ElAttache very well. We feel good about where he is. Medically we did a very thorough review," Friedman said. "He takes care of himself extremely well."

When pressed and asked specifically if Olivera had any sort of sprain or tear in his elbow, as was previously rumored, Friedman would only add, "We felt really good about it as he went through [the process]."

Olivera said, through a translator, that there were no serious issues with his elbow.

"I don't know where that rumor came from," Olivera said. "There was a little bit of inflammation in my arm, but a lot of people saw me play in the tryouts, and I played well. It was fatigue in the muscle."

Friedman said he didn't know yet what position Olivera would play, second and third base seem to be the most logical end points for the infielder.

"He'll tell you he's most comfortable at second, but he's had no problems moving around the infield in Cuba. At our academy he got a lot of work at second and third, and the reports on both were good," Friedman said. "His bat is his carrying tool, and has a chance to be a real impact bat in the major leagues. We're going to do everything we can to provide the environment to move him along."

Olivera did say he prefers second base but is willing to play anywhere.

"I'm here to play whatever position they put me," he said.

Olivera estimated it would take him three to four weeks to be ready to play in the majors.

But just how long it takes Olivera to make his way to the majors remains to be seen, and will largely depend on Olivera's performance in the minors, against real competition.

"Seeing him in game action will be very telling. We'll kind of go off those cues and figure out the right time when to advance him along," Friedman said. "We feel very confident he's going to come up at some point this year and help us win games."