- Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena reported to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, nearly three weeks after agreeing to a $25 million, five-year contract.

“I’ve thought about this for a year,” Arruebarrena said through an interpreter. “I’m just happy to be with the Dodger organization.”

The shortstop said he arrived in Arizona on Wednesday night from Miami, where he had been for a few days after leaving Haiti, where he had lived defecting from Cuba in November. He needed to acquire a work visa before he could join the Dodgers, who reached agreement with him on Feb. 22 and completed the deal at their complex in the Dominican Republic.

Arruebarrena wore No. 11 - the number Manny Mota used with the Dodgers during his time in Los Angeles. Now a minor league hitting instructor with the Dodgers, Mota welcomed Arruebarrena to Camelback Ranch.

“Be proud to wear this,” Mota said as he hugged Arruebarrena.

Arruebarrena was welcomed by fellow Cubans Yasiel Puig and Alex Guerrero. He played with Guerrero on Cuba’s national team and with Puig on their hometown club, Cienfuegos.

“I know him well,” Arruebarrena said of Puig. “We grew up together.”

Arruebarrena said he has not played since December and was anxious to begin batting practice and fielding drills. He thinks he can be in the major leagues this year.

“I just want to start practicing so I can get ready to be with the team,” he said.

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