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Braves spring training questions: Is Hector Olivera ready to break out?

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Will a shift from third base to left field help Olivera get comfortable in Atlanta?

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training stats and performances, for the most part, mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Pitchers and hitters are getting back in the swing of the daily grind. Most of the veterans never travel more than 50 miles for road games. The outcomes of the games mean nothing.

That said, one of the big questions facing the Braves this spring is what Hector Olivera can do. There's already been no shortage of coverage as Olivera showed up to workouts early with a new swing:

From the AJC:

When Hector Olivera took batting practice Saturday with a few other early arriving Braves position players, he displayed a stance and swing that looked simpler and smoother than he had as a rookie in 2015.

Even his manager in the Puerto Rican Winter League, former major leaguer Alex Cora, noticed the difference when he saw a video posted on Twitter by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Hector looks, physically, a lot better in that video," Cora said in a Twitter direct message. Asked about the lack of a stride or coil in Olivera's new stance, Cora said, "Yep, and he looks comfortable with it."

And video of his smoother swing:

Olivera's struggles last season were well documented. He hit just .250/.310/.405 with a 97 wRC+. Questionable work at third base prompted the Braves to shift him to left field during the offseason, and it will be curious to see how the Braves split his time in the spring between third and left.

Struggles aside, it's crucial to remember just how much he bounced around in 2015. It's not easy to transition from Cuba to the United States working an entry-level job, let alone as a professional baseball player. Add in a couple of injuries (which will be a cause for concern this season) and Olivera probably deserves a second chance in 2016. There's a reason he was so highly regarded as a prospect.

For as little as spring stats tell you, all eyes will be on his every swing and outfield route. After a brief stint in the Venezuelan winter league, he had all offseason to get healthy and comfortable. There's really no excuse for him not to be ready to rock and roll. This feels like a big year for Olivera, and the Braves are going to need him moving forward.