Dodgers reach preliminary deal with Cuban shortstop
Agreement with Arruebarruena still pending physical, legal and immigration issues
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers have reached a preliminary contract agreement with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena on Wednesday, according to a baseball source.
The club has not confirmed the signing.
Sources said there still are physical exams and possible legal and immigration issues to resolve.
Arruebarruena is the latest of an increasing emphasis by the Dodgers of signing international players in general and Cubans in particular, especially after the stunning success of Yasiel Puig.
The Dodgers also signed Alex Guerrero, whom they penciled in to start at second base this year, although the natural shortstop has struggled in his transition to the other side of the bag.
Arruebarruena is also a natural shortstop who apparently will stay at that position. He is 23 with six seasons of professional experience in Cuba, so he is not bound by international salary restrictions.
Unlike Guerrero, who is considered an offensive middle infielder, Arruebarruena is known for his glove and figures to need Minor League seasoning to bring his bat to Major League caliber.
Arruebarruena, however, does add to organizational depth in the infield, which had been lacking until the drafting and progression of former first-round pick Corey Seager, currently a shortstop in a third baseman's body.
The Dodgers still apparently are interested in giving a contract extension to current shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but with an understanding that he would move permanently to third base when a shortstop replacement is ready.
Dodgers slowing down Fife's throwing program
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Stephen Fife is healthy right now, and he wants to keep it that way.
So as a precautionary measure, Fife is on a slower Spring Training throwing regimen than most of the pitchers. It's a measure to avoid the struggles of last year, when Fife developed right shoulder bursitis that put him on the disabled list twice.
Fife came into camp last spring No. 9 on the starting-pitcher depth chart. But he ultimately made 10 big league starts, more than Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly or Aaron Harang. He went 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA, allowing a .235 opponents' batting average.
The right-hander also said that once he developed shoulder problems, they never went away. Fife is on a conservative throwing program now, similar to the one Billingsley is using to ease back from Tommy John surgery.
"I was discouraged over the winter, because even in December, I didn't feel like I was getting any better," said Fife. "I still couldn't stretch my arm on a training table. But around Jan. 10, it really started to improve and it feels good now when I throw."
A year ago, Fife's path to the big league rotation was blocked by the signings of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Similarly, this spring, the Dodgers have brought in veteran starters Dan Haren and Paul Maholm.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.