Olivera gets plenty of action in left-field debut

Olivera gets plenty of action in left-field debut

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Hector Olivera has impressed the Braves with the commitment he has made to transition from third base to left field, and along the way, he gained a vote of confidence from 10-time Gold Glove Award winner Andruw Jones, who recently told Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez that Olivera can handle the position.

Now, Olivera will have to deal with the challenges that await him as he acquaints himself with the left-field position, while dealing with the wind and other Spring Training elements that have frustrated both experienced and accomplished outfielders over the years.

"I'm good with him getting all the chances he can get to show us he can play the position," Gonzalez said.

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Though Olivera actually introduced himself to left field during the Puerto Rican Winter League, his first chance to play the position for the Braves occurred during Thursday's Grapefruit League season opener against the Orioles, a 4-4 tie. As fate would have it, Olivera fielded four balls during the first inning.

Ryan Flaherty led off the game with a single to left. Olivera cautiously approached a Jimmy Paredes bloop double that landed along the left-field line one batter later, and then made a pair of catches when the next two batters hit balls to left. The 30-year-old Cuba native watched a Henry Urrutia double sail over his head the next inning, moments after third-base coach Bo Porter had motioned for him to take a few steps toward the infield.

"I'm pleased with Olivera in left field," Gonzalez said. "Why not get him some reps right off the get go? The baseball gods are funny. We talk about how well he's doing, and I think he got five balls hit to him within the first seven hitters."

Odds and ends
• Right-handed reliever Maurico Cabrera showed off his powerful arm when he registered 102 mph with a fastball he threw while recording a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning on Tuesday.

"That's free and easy" Gonzalez said in reference to the 22-year-old reliever, who produced a 5.59 ERA over 36 appearances with Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Mississippi last year.

Adonis Garcia exited Tuesday's game after he turned his left ankle while running to first base on a fourth-inning single. His exit seemed to be precautionary, as he indicated he was fine before casually walking around the clubhouse without any sign of a limp.

• Right-handed reliever Jose Ramirez, who was acquired from the Mariners in December, is the only player in Braves camp who is out of options.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.