Hector Olivera gets two hits in Gwinnett debut, nears call-up

Hector Olivera will play third base for the Braves, likely as early as Monday at Turner Field.

Hector Olivera will play third base for the Braves, likely as early as Monday at Turner Field. (Special to the AJC)

Hector Olivera arrived in the vicinity of Atlanta Thursday, making his debut just up I-85 with the Gwinnett Braves. He won’t be in Triple A long enough for  Gwinnett to have a Hector Olivera Bobblehead Night.

Olivera, a Cuban defector who was the central piece for the Braves in a three-team, 13-player trade, had a successful night. He went 2-for-3 with two singles, a walk and a run scored. That’s significantly better than he did in his first six games in the organization after the July 30 trade, having gone 1-for-17 (0-for-5 in the Gulf Coast League and 1-for-12 with Single A Rome).

My post-game conversation with Olivera is below.

Olivera’s name was written on a piece of tape above his locker, adjacent to Christian Bethancourt.

Manager Brian Snitker said he didn’t “know anything” about Olivera, but laughed, adding, “But I have him playing third and hitting third.”

Yeah. He knew something.

Olivera said through a translator that expects to play only three games or four games with Gwinnett. That lines up with the Braves’ return home for a three-game series against Colorado at Turner Field that starts Monday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won a bidding war for Olivera, giving him a six-year, $62.5 million contract in March that included a $28 million signing bonus. He hit .348 (24 for 69) in 19 games in the Dodgers system. The Braves’ interest in the 30-year-old didn’t continued — so much so that they were willing to part with a successful young pitcher (Alex Wood) in the trade.

Therein lies the gamble. Wood was a proven commodity, Olivera isn’t. But Braves president of baseball operations John Hart and assistant John Coppolella felt it was time to use the organization’s pitching depth to acquire some needed hitting, and they believe Olivera, who will play third base in the majors, fills that void. The Braves also are not responsible for Olivera’s $28 million signing bonus.

Here’s a transcript of my post-game conversation with Olivera with the help of translator Alex Cotto:

Question: How does it feel to be so close to the majors now?

Answer: “I’m very excited. This is something I’ve strived for and now I’m close to experiencing it and being at that level. I’m three or four games away from being ready to go up and face that challenge.”

Q: What’s the plan in terms of how many games you’ll play with Gwinnett?

A: “If everything goes as planned and I feel 100 percent, the plan as far as I know is to play three games here and then, depending on how everything looks at the end of the three games, if I’m ready to go up, maybe Monday, that’s the plan. But that’s a call (the Braves) have to make. I feel I’m three or four games away from being ready.

Q: In the first six games after the trade, you didn’t hit well in the Gulf Coast League or with Rome. Do you feel you were pressing?

A: “I just look at it as part of the process. I don’t think much about it. I haven’t played in quite some time so it’s just part of the process of getting back to the level I need to. I’m almost there. Today went well, I’m just a little bit off.”

Q: The Braves gave up a lot in the trade to get you. Do you feel more pressure to perform because of that?

A: “I don’t worry about those things. This is a business. I’ve learned that. I’m here to help the Braves win. One thing that the fans and everybody in the front office should know is when I’m out there playing I’m going to give 100 percent for me and my teammates. I don’t spend time thinking about the outside things I can’t control.”

Q: The Dodgers spent a lot of money to get you. Were you surprised when they traded you?

A: “As I’ve said in previous interviews, I don’t have any hard feelings towards the Dodgers. I’m thankful for the opportunity they gave me. But I’m here to help the Braves and I know the future of the Braves is bright and I want to be a part of it.”

Q: How many words of English do you speak?

A (Olivera answers in English for the only time): “Yes and no.”

The G-Braves’ welcomed Olivera on their Twitter account:

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Reader Comments 0

38 comments
JeffCriswell
JeffCriswell

Only time will tell. Money is not going to be the issue, as he is reasonably priced for the market. Braves need someone to handle the hot corner and hit for power. Hopefully this fellow can help us. 

candlin14
candlin14

Get a new picture of this guy with a Braves Uniform on please!! I am tired of seeing this Cuban outfit. Call the guy up so we can see what he looks like. This organization is awful. Its becoming the laughing stock of the MLB. If you think Atlanta fans couldn't have it any worse, the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, and UGA continue to drive a dagger in the heart!!!!

CurtisPAUL
CurtisPAUL

I love the Braves very much, but watching play is like steering a rudderless ship. Bobby cox was a great manager 15 consecutive championship years speak for it self.  It hard to say no to someone who is admired and respected as BC.  But red flags should have went up when he said Freddie G had done an outstanding job at the end of 2014 season, when it was clear then that the team had quit on him as they have quit on him now. The Fla Marlin fired Freddie and went on tho win a championship. Under FG leadership the Braves Playoff streak ended and they have been bullied by Brice Harper and the Nat for the last 3 years. The last Manager Bobby Cox hired Chuck Tanner he had to fire himself and Chuck to manager the team himself.  Freddie G has  destroy team chemistry, Braves' fan proud, and players self-esteem. Put a stop to this madness get rid of FG before he do to the few SPs we have left what he did to the pitching core and great bullpen he inherited from BC

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Other than the error about the marlins winning a WS after firing Fredi Inagree with you. The Marlins won in ,97 and 03 and Fredi was in the Braves organization back then I think he took over in like 2007 or something I'm not sure but he took over for Joe Giradi who will be with bthe Yankees this weekend

RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

There's going to be a lot of sad faces when Olivera doesn't live up to the AJC and Braves hype.  Not sure why anyone expects him to be any better than what the team already has...if he had any potential do you really think the Dodgers would have let him go? 

Jpace
Jpace

Guess I'm giving FG an ill earned pass. My real gripe is with the absentee owners and the top tier managers of the franchise.


58Supersports
58Supersports

Hope he lives up to his billing, if not he could be Hart's BJ or Uggla.....

Jpace
Jpace

Dear Braves Management,


Just a note of thanks for throwing in the towel early this year and doing so for who knows how long, By now we all have had the opportunity to see for certain that the team can't hit or pitch. And as for the near term years in front of us, I saw a list of MLB's Top 100 prospects and only one out of the 100 was a Brave. The worst of it is that nobody within your management team seems to give two cents that the team is so for down in the standings. We are a low budget team with absentee ownership with zero ties to Atlanta. I'm a 50 year Braves fan and 70+ year MLB fan. Some teams have the ability to transform themselves and continue to be competitive simultaneously and I'm not referring to the Yankees or Dodgers. Am referring to teams like the Cardinals who seem to invest their time and money wisely and contract with players in a sensible fashion. The Braves simply have lost the ability to do any of those things with distinction. I've never been more disgusted with the shape of the franchise. I can't imagine the misery that the field managers, announcers and others must feel losing game after game with the inferior team that you guys have fielded this year. You owe your audience an apology of the first order but I doubt you have the insight to know it. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Jpace Fantastic post and thank you for saying so well what so many of us are thinking, however the stooge field manager is part of the problem instead of a victim of it.


Team now only 3 games out of the bottom of the NL East. That's where they belong and here's hoping they reach their true place....

58Supersports
58Supersports

@Jpace  Agree except on manager...he should have been fired with Wren.

Hart also lied saying team would be competitive, what a joke and lie.

 FG's team couldn't beat the East Marietta Little League. 

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

@Jpace 


Outstanding post.  Should be put formally in a memo with fan signatures enclosed and send to Mr. Hart but it would be a waste of time because they don't care what the fans think.  They already a fat deal with the new stadium and won't have to invest a dime in the next 3 yrs until the novelty of the stadium wore off. This is without doubt one the darkest hours in our franchise since the 80s.

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Christian Bethancourte is hitting .315 for Gwinnette....... He deserves another chance.

JeffCriswell
JeffCriswell

If he gives us 3 years or more of .280/20 hr/ 80 rbi's I will be happy. He will also have to conduct himself with dignity and represent the Braves well. If he solidifies 3rd base we are still in need of a catcher, left-fielder, long and short relief, and perhaps a centerfielder, too. Regardless, I wish this youngster well. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

Braves now closer to 4th than 2nd! Now we're talking! Only 5 games ahead of the Phillies w 40 to play. Might be tough to find that bottom rung of the division, but I believe they can do it!

Doktor13
Doktor13

@Wilbo The management team will then extend Fredi's extension... logic, the "Braves Way"...


{face palm - smfh}


freezboy
freezboy

Jeff...do you know more than 2 words of Spanish....I know there's got to be better questions than....do you feel pressure...Ought to ask him whats his favorite food... place to eat....so forth....or how about welcome... then post a video...

...

freezboy
freezboy

He will be our future for the next 4 years....hey that's 4 out of 5....better deal than we got with that last lot that just left town.....I'll drink to that....WOOF.....

forexbomb
forexbomb

He batted very poorly in Rookie baseball ... Freezboy, have you been drinking..  This guy is 30 years old and is our future 3rd baseman... LOL

freezboy
freezboy

He's about to be a hit in Atlanta...we will not go quietly

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

"The Braves’ interest in the 30-year-old didn’t continued..."


Hmmmm

kenstallings
kenstallings

He seems to be the real deal as a player with the only question being his durability.

Wilbo
Wilbo

If maybe's, mights, and could be's meant any-damn-thing, the Atlanta Braves would win every World Series from here to 2025.


Yawn. Braves suck.


So do the idiots who blog about hem.

44
44

@Archangel You took the words right outta me Archangel ..... Hahahaha !!!!!!!!                         

Open mouth & insert FOOT - Wilbo

Wilbo
Wilbo

Ahhhhhhh, thanks for the love all you guys! Archie, that you from the ol forum way in the way back? Hope you're doing well. Yup, I do definitely despise the Braves! The most despicable wasters of talent and opportunity in American sports in my opinion. I love seeing where they are today. Much closer to 4th than 2nd. Drop like a rock, suckahs!

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Lets hope Olivera delivers. Braves' fans need something to get excited about going into the off-season.

twentysixpointtwo
twentysixpointtwo

I don't know how good of a Brave he will be but he sure handled the questions thrown at him pretty well.

Archangel
Archangel

Especially considering they were edited for print.