PHOENIX — The Dodgers might have become considerably more entertaining Thursday.
Erisbel Arruebarrena reported to camp.
Arruebarrena, a 23-year-old shortstop, said he plays with the same flair and emotion as Yasiel Puig, his childhood friend from Cuba.
“That’s typical of Latinos,” Arruebarrena said.
Like Puig, he will be well-compensated. Arruebarrena’s five-year contract is guaranteed for $25 million.
Arruebarrena and Puig have known each other since they were 9 years old. They lived near each other in the province of Cienfuegos and played for its team in the Cuban league.
“From the time we were small we played together,” Arruebarrena said.
Arruebarrena also knew Alex Guerrero from their days together on Cuba’s national team.
“You get to a new team and there are Cuban players, players you know, it’s really emotional,” he said.
Arruebarrena declined to talk about his defection from Cuba and said he hasn’t been told at what level he would play at the start of the season.
He was introduced Thursday to former manager Tom Lasorda, who asked him his name. When Arruebarrena told him, Lasorda replied in Spanish, “Muy dificil,” or “very difficult.”
Coach Manny Mota dropped by later.
Arruebarrena will wear No. 11, which was Mota’s number.
“You know what?” Mota told him. “That’s my number. Wear it with pride.”