DENVER — The Tulsa Drillers are in the middle of a stretch of 16 home games in the next 16 days, with a day off and three road games somehow sprinkled in between. It’s a weird schedule, check it out on the team website.
This is the odd cradle in which Hector Olivera will begin his professional baseball career in the Dodgers’ organization. Olivera had been working out at the Dodgers’ extended spring training facility at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. Soon, he will be a Driller. Olivera doesn’t have a uniform number, let alone a timetable to reach the major leagues, but at least he has a team now.
Olivera has drawn rave reviews from those who have seen him practicing and playing extended spring training games. For now, Olivera is living up to the hype Andrew Friedman placed on him when the president called him a potential “middle of the order hitter.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that one of the first things Olivera worked on in Arizona was his sliding. Having seen Yasiel Puig and Alex Guerrero seemingly risk life and limb attempting to slide into bases this year, it was important to address.
“The danger of practicing sliding is getting hurt doing it,” Mattingly said. “Hitting, you can do it over and over and over but you don’t worry about getting hurt taking swings. How many slides can you actually take practicing?”