WASHINGTON — Braves left fielder Hector Olivera was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery for his alleged involvement in a domestic dispute at the team hotel in Arlington, Va.
The 31-year-old Cuban rookie was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball per its domestic-violence policy. The Braves are in Washington for a series against the Nationals that runs through Thursday.
Police were called to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City at 6:51 a.m. Wednesday by a woman saying she had been assaulted. The Arlington, Va., public information office said the female victim had bruises and was transported to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington with non life-threatening injuries. She was treated and released Wednesday afternoon.
Olivera’s bond was set at $10,000 after he appeared in front of a judge late Wednesday afternoon. ABC7 News in Washington, D.C., reported that Olivera posted bond and was en route to the airport by early evening. He lives in Miami.
Police say Olivera and the alleged victim knew each other, but would not detail their relationship.
MLB said in a statement, “Consistent with our Joint Domestic Violence Policy, the player has been placed on administrative leave and the Commissioner’s Office has begun an investigation.”
Olivera was at the Ritz-Carlton when police arrived Wednesday morning and was taken into custody.
“We are extremely disappointed and troubled to learn of the allegations involving Hector Olivera,” the Braves said in a statement. “We will continue to gather information and will address this matter appropriately as we determine the facts. Major League Baseball has placed Olivera on Administrative Leave effective immediately.”
Braves general manager John Coppolella, at Nationals Park before Wednesday night’s game, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Olivera is the latest case to fall under the MLB domestic violence policy that took effect in August. The policy gives commissioner Rob Manfred power to discipline players regardless of whether there’s a conviction of even formal charges.
Yankees (and former Reds) closer Aroldis Chapman is serving a 30-game suspension for firing a gun in his garage at home in Florida during a dispute with his girlfriend. There were no criminal charges, but MLB’s investigation confirmed the allegation and the league issued its suspension.
With Olivera on the restricted list, the Braves recalled infielder Daniel Castro from Triple-A Gwinnett to replace him on the 25-man major league roster. They have several options for left field on the current roster including bench players Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francoeur and Drew Stubbs.
Olivera, who turned 31 this month but is still classified as a major league rookie, hit .211 (4-for-19) with one double, one walk and five strikeouts in six games (five starts) this season. The winless Braves (0-7) are on their first road trip, and Tuesday night’s loss to the Nationals was the first game he didn’t play.
After defecting from Cuba in 2014, Olivera was eventually declared a free agent and signed a six-year, $62 million contract with the Dodgers in March 2015 after a multi-team bidding war that included the Braves.
The Braves couldn’t afford the asking price then, but acquired Olivera in a blockbuster trade in July that sent three Atlanta pitchers – including young left-hander Alex Wood – and top infield prospect Jose Peraza to the Dodgers. Under terms of the deal, the Braves owe Olivera about $32 million for the final five years of the contract through 2020, with the Dodgers responsible for the rest including his $28 million signing bonus.
Olivera played 77 games in 2015 for eight different teams during a seven-month span, including six minor league teams with the Dodgers and Braves. That included 24 games with the Braves in September during his first stint in the major leagues, in which he hit a modest .253 with two homers and a .310 OBP.
After the season, the Braves sent him to the Puerto Rican winter league to work on his swing and a position switch from third base to left field, believing it would be an easier position for the longtime former second baseman to learn and allow him to focus more on hitting. Listed as 6 feet 2 and 230 pounds, Olivera has added 20-30 pounds since his days as a second baseman in Cuba and is considered too large for that position.
The plan was for Olivera to spend six weeks in Puerto Rico, but he was released by the Caguas team after five weeks. A person familiar with the situation said it was a mutual decision between Caguas manager Alex Cora and Olivera, who had struggled in his last weeks with the team and showed signs of mental fatigue, citing concerns about being away from family including an ailing sister in Miami who needed a kidney transplant.
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