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Dodgers' Olivera visits big league clubhouse in Arizona

PHOENIX -- Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, rehabbing a strained left hamstring at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch complex, visited the big league clubhouse at Chase Field to introduce himself to manager Don Mattingly and staff.

The 30-year-old Olivera signed a $62.5 million contract May 20 and had been learning to play third base to go with his natural second base position when he was injured June 20 while playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City. It's not clear how Mattingly will work Olivera into the mix when he's promoted. But Mattingly said he was impressed with Olivera's maturity and adjustment to the United States.

"He handled himself well, seemed comfortable," Mattingly said.

And Olivera taught his manager something about Cuban baseball.

"I asked him why all the Cuban players hit the other way," said Mattingly, who is critical of young Major Leaguers that have not learned to hit using the entire field. "He said if you play on the national team there, at a young age they teach you to hit the other way.

"All the Cuban guys seem to do that. [Yasiel] Puig does it really good. [Yasmany] Tomas has that inside-out swing, [Jose] Abreu, too. They all learn that approach. Somebody down there is teaching that at a young age and I like it a lot."

Mattingly said Olivera told him he was gaining a comfort level at third base after playing his career on the other side of the infield.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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