Rafael Dolis was signed by Hanshin a little later than most imports. He reached his agreement in the middle of January, but still made it to spring training on time, having caught a flight with fellow Dominicans Mauro Gomez and Marcos Mateo. He reported to the club’s top squad spring training in Okinawa, although he was slated to begin the season on the second squad. While he impressed during the preseason, there was no room for him on the top roster because of the import limitation rule.
However, when fellow newcomer Matt Hague struggled early in the year and the top squad’s bullpen also lacked stability, the team swapped the third baseman for Dolis. He made his debut on April 19 against the Yakult Swallows. He also pitched the next night and two nights later, all scoreless innings. He allowed his first two runs against on April 23, which was his fourth appearance in 5 days. Dolis earned his first career win just over a week later when he pitched a scoreless top of the 8th against the DeNA Baystars and the bats pushed the winning run across the plate in the bottom of the frame. Unfortunately, Dolis was deactivated on May 17 due to arm fatigue. (Hague got the call up after a hot month on the farm, but could not keep it up in the short chance he was given at the end of May.)
Upon his recall on May 31, Dolis rattled off 15 straight innings of shutout ball over the course of six weeks. He picked up two wins and six saves during that stretch. With Mateo returning from an injury of his own in the middle of June and Kyuji Fujikawa giving up untimely home runs (like the 3-run walk-off job by Brandon Laird at Sapporo Dome on June 10), Dolis was given the closer’s role until he once again got deactivated at the end of July with a sore right elbow.
He remained inactive until season’s end, at which point he returned to America to get his elbow surgically repaired. The club announced his release on December 2, and although rumors have floated around that they may sign him again if his elbow proves to be in good shape, nothing has yet substantiated.
Hanging out with a Tiger (March 21, 2016)
Tigers Sign Sixth Import Dolis (January 18, 2016)