Sierra clears visa issues, works out with Dodgers

Sierra clears visa issues, works out with Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cuban pitcher Yaisel Sierra has cleared his paperwork and visa problems and took the field for the first time on Tuesday as a member of the Dodgers.

Sierra signed a six-year, $30 million contract and is expected to start the season in the Minor Leagues.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Sierra would spend the day working out to become acclimated to his teammates, then be put on a regular program for building up his arm strength through side sessions and bullpens, "just like any of the other pitchers."

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"I had a chance to meet [Sierra] yesterday and say, 'Hello,'" Roberts said. "It was just a little encounter. But as I understand it he's going to be with us and participate. We're excited to have him, and I'm looking forward to putting eyes on him."

Dodgers sign Yaisel Sierra

The 24-year-old right-hander pitched four seasons in the Cuban National Series and with the national team. He was 16-21 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.490 WHIP, primarily as a starter. Before taking the field, Sierra met with the media for the first time.

"I'm just happy and honored to be here and looking forward to playing with the team," he said through an interpreter.

The Dodgers have been particularly aggressive in the Cuban market since signing Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million deal in 2012. Puig was an immediate sensation, prompting the club to scoop up infielders Alex Guerrero ($28 million), Erisbel Arruebarrena ($25 million) and Hector Olivera ($62.5 million).

In recent months they have also signed Cuban pitcher Yadier Alvarez and fellow Cuban prospects Yusniel Diaz and Omar Estevez, all of whom have reported to the club's early Minor League camp.

Sierra said he left Cuba for the Dominican Republic and then signed with the Dodgers from there.

"I really don't want to go into any more details about the process than that," Sierra said.

Though Sierra has yet to meet Puig, he said having so many Cuban players in camp will undoubtedly help him make the transition from Cuba to the U.S.

"We all played for the national team at different times," he said. "But certainly it will be a good thing to have guys like Puig to talk to as I make my transition here."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.