GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Dodgers have two veteran non-roster players in camp who aren’t just energized by the fresh opportunity, but happy to be free of the last organization that employed them.
Chone Figgins said he was stunned when the Miami Marlins released him two springs ago and catcher Miguel Olivo, an 11-year veteran, said the experience in camp with the Dodgers is night and day from how things were run in Miami.
“Here, I feel like I’m playing baseball,” Olivo said. “I don’t want to show disrespect to anybody, but you never knew what could happen over there.”
The Marlins put Olivo on the restricted list after he – frustrated by scant playing time -- reportedly walked out on the team shortly before its June 14 game against the St. Louis Cardinals. By not granting Olivo his release until nearly a month later, the Marlins were able to make it difficult for Olivo to sign with another team.
He never did, not until signing a minor-league deal with the Dodgers last month. Now, Olivo, 35, is trying to push as high as he can in the Dodgers’ catching depth chart against the tide. The Dodgers feel content with their combination of A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz, but Olivo would have a shot if they carry three catchers or if one of those players gets hurt.
He said he had other opportunities, but was drawn to the Dodgers in part because he lives in the Central Valley town of Oakdale, his wife’s home town and, in part, because he’d like a chance to win. Olivo, who hit double-digit home runs every season from 2006-2012, hasn’t been on a playoff team since the 2005 San Diego Padres.
Olivo has been impressed with the arms in Dodgers’ camp, particularly with the team’s bullpen, which he called, “amazing,” for its combination of command and velocity.
“I’ve been playing for a long time and I want to win a ring,” Olivo said. “I think this team has a chance to win the World Series.”