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Arruebarrena arrives at Dodgers camp

Club's newest Cuban addition excited to join middle-infield mix

Arruebarrena arrives at Dodgers camp

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Erisbel Arruebarrena, the Cuban shortstop who signed with the Dodgers for $25 million last month, received his visa and arrived at Camelback Ranch on Thursday.

Wearing long-time coach Manny Mota's familiar No. 11 jersey, Arruebarrena posed for photos with Cuban teammates Yasiel Puig and Alex Guerrero.

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"Wear that number with pride," Mota told him.

Arruebarrena deftly handled media questions, with answers focused on how happy he was to be with the Dodgers. He came to Arizona from Haiti via Miami, but would not discuss details of his departure from Cuba.

"I'm only worried about playing baseball," he said. "I'm really excited, not nervous. I'm going to get ready to play baseball. I'm happy to sign with the Dodgers."

Arruebarrena said he plays with a flair more like that of the theatrical Puig than the subdued Guerrero.

"It's typical of Latins," he said.

At the time of Arruebarrena's signing to a five-year contract, general manager Ned Colletti said he wouldn't be surprised if Arruebarrena arrived in the Major Leagues this year. But he also called Arruebarrena's offense "a work in progress."

He said he felt he was in shape to play now, but hasn't played regularly since the winter.

Arruebarrena, 23, posted a .276 batting average with 67 doubles, 25 triples, 27 homers and 171 RBI in 437 career games in six seasons for Cienfuegos in the Cuban Serie Nacional from 2007-13. He was a teammate of Puig's in 2010-11.

Dodgers vice president of international scouting Bob Engel compared Arruebarrena's defense to the late Mark Belanger, an eight-time Gold Glove winner with Baltimore.

Arruebarrena joins prospect Corey Seager and possibly Guerrero as another option for the Dodgers at shortstop if and when Hanley Ramirez gets a contract extension and moves to third base.

Arruebarrena is the latest of an ever-increasing emphasis by the Dodgers of signing international players, in general, and Cubans, in particular, especially after the stunning success of Puig. Because Arruebarrena has six seasons of professional experience in Cuba, he was not bound by international salary restrictions. The Dodgers now have one scout based in Florida, Mike Tosar, whose special assignment is Cuba alone.

The Dodgers last year signed Guerrero, who was 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.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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