MLB declares Hector Olivera a free agent

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Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports. That means Olivera is free to negotiate and sign with any team at any time. He’s expected to garner a contract in the $50-70 million range.

The Dodgers, Braves, Padres, Athletics, Yankees, and Giants are believed to have the most interest in Olivera at this time. Olivera, who defected from Cuba last September, will turn 30 years old on April 5. He has batted .323/.407/.505 with 96 home runs and 433 RBI across 10 seasons in the Cuban National Series.

Olivera was believed to have suffered a UCL injury but his representatives refuted the claim, saying he passed four physicals per Baseball America’s Ben Badler.

Fan hit by foul ball during Sunday’s Rockies-Dodgers game

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Another fan was struck by a line drive foul ball during Sunday’s game between the Rockies and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Mike DiGiovanna and Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times report. The ball was hit by Cody Bellinger in the first inning, going just beyond where the protective netting ends at the first-base dugout, striking a young woman in the head. Play was delayed for two minutes while the woman received medical attention. She initially stayed in her seat holding an ice pack to her head but was taken to a hospital for evaluation. According to someone in the Dodger Stadium first-aid office, the girl was alert and responding.

After the game, Bellinger said, “It was weird. It’s the first time I think I’ve hit a fan. I saw it literally hit her face. That was tough. I just tried to regroup. I’m sure it was tough for everyone.” He added, “I went over the next half-inning just to make sure she was all right. She said she was all right. She gave me a thumbs up. Obviously, it’s a scary situation.”

Both Bellinger and manager Dave Roberts expressed support for extending the protective netting at Dodger Stadium. [Update: Netting will be extended, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports.]

Bellinger was involved in yet another incident involving a fan later in the game. According to Michael Duarte of NBC Los Angeles, a 14-year-old girl ran on the field in the ninth inning. Bellinger said the girl came up to him and said, “I want a hug.” As she hugged Bellinger, a security guard tackled her. Bellinger said to her, “You know you’re going to jail?” She replied, “Yeah, I know. It was worth it.”