Dodgers plan to use Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra as a reliever
The Dodgers unveiled their latest high-priced Cuban import on Tuesday, as pitcher Yaisel Sierra, who signed a six-year, $30-million deal in February, participated in his first workout at Camelback Ranch.
“It’s a pleasure to be here,” Sierra, a 24-year-old right-hander, said through a translator. “It’s really a beautiful feeling to be here.”
The Dodgers will take a few days to evaluate Sierra’s physical condition before starting him on a throwing program. There was some question as to whether Sierra would be employed as a starter or reliever, but Manager Dave Roberts cleared that up.
“We view him as a reliever,” Roberts said. “It’s nice in a sense that we’re not worried too much about stretching him out. … We’re excited to have him. I’m looking forward to laying my eyes on him.”
Sierra, who features a 95-mph fastball, slider and changeup, seems prepared for either role. He was both a starter and reliever in Cuba, where he had a 6.10 earned-run average in his last professional season.
“I’m here to do whatever is needed, whether it’s being a starter or pitching in relief,” said Sierra, who is expected to open the season at triple-A Oklahoma City. “I’m just here to help the team in the best way I can.”
But as of Tuesday morning, he had not yet sought advice from his fellow countrymen on making the sometimes difficult transition from Cuba to the U.S.
“I haven’t really talked to a lot of them because I’ve had very little time here in the States,” Sierra said. “But I really look forward to talking to them, because they’re really good people. … I’m really open to learning how to better acclimate and assimilate into the clubhouse.”
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