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Category: Ronald Belisario

I'll always forget my first time: Dodger Ronald Belisario

Ron6
Ah, the wonder that is Ronald Belisario. What to make of our hard-throwing Venezuelan right-hander?

Say this for him, he’s in camp on time this year, a first for him in his four years with the Dodgers. Of course, last year he never did make it.

He told a Venezuelan newspaper he was late to spring training last season because he lost his passport. In a stunning development, on Wednesday he admitted it was not true. He told reporters in Phoenix he could not leave his native country because he had tested positive for cocaine.

If only things were so simple. Because then he added he had only used the drug once, could not remember when he was tested or what entity had tested him.

I don’t know, wild guess, but if you had only used cocaine once in your life and it was only a year ago, just maybe you’d remember snorting the white powder. And particularly where you were tested and by whom when busted. Particularly, you know, since you only tried coke once.

The Times’ Dylan Hernandez has learned from an individual familiar with the situation that Belisario was actually tested by the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela when applying for a visa. Not that you could expect him to remember that. He was tested because of a previous DUI arrest in Pasadena during the 2009 season.

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Ronald Belisario says positive cocaine test was reason for absence

Ronald Belisario
Back with the Dodgers after a year-long absence, reliever Ronald Belisario said he couldn’t leave his native Venezuela last year because he tested positive for cocaine.

Belisario said he didn’t know when he tested positive for the drug or what entity administered the test.

But the hard-throwing right-hander insisted he doesn’t have a cocaine problem, saying he used the drug only once. He said he hasn’t been treated for cocaine addiction.

“I don’t have a problem with any drugs,” he said.

Belisario will have to serve a 25-game suspension at the start of the upcoming season for violating baseball’s drug policy.

Belisario missed part of the 2010 season to receive treatment in a substance-abuse program. He said the treatment he received wasn’t for cocaine use, but declined to specify any further.

“That’s in the past,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Armed with a mid-90s sinker, Belisario posted a 2.04 earned-run average in 69 appearances as a rookie in 2009. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence late that year.

Belisario said his troubles are behind him.

“I’m going to be here for a long time,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to resuming his once-promising career.

“Man, I’m so excited to be here,” Belisario said. “I was waiting for this moment. Finally, I’m here.”

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-- Dylan Hernandez in Phoenix

Photo: Ronald Belisario in 2010. Credit: Bret Hartman / For The Times

Count on the Dodgers for these early rites of spring

Dodgers pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring-training camp Tuesday morning, and I am positively certain each one of these things will transpire:

-- Ronald Belisario will not only be there on time, he’ll proudly be wearing a lanyard around his neck holding his visa.

-- Catcher Ted Federowicz will arrive without sporting that 1970s-style mustache. Actually, I have no idea if this is true, I just hope it is.

-- The hearts of every hitter in the National League will skip a beat when Clayton Kershaw announces he has been working with Fernando Valenzuela to develop a screwball.

-- Manager Don Mattingly will have to take 267 razzings for good-naturedly wearing a dress for a charity performance of the "Nutcracker." In the first two hours.

-- Rubby De La Rosa will announce he’s at least two months ahead of schedule in his return from Tommy John surgery.

-- Catcher A.J. Ellis will tweet that Chad Billingsley already looks like he’s in midseason form.

-- Ted Lilly’s fastball will appear another 2 mph slower, and he will somehow manage to use it to his advantage.

-- John Grabow will go around the locker room and shake hands with every player, coach and media member, just to remind them he’s left-handed.

-- Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt will explain to some first-time camper how he was actually the only pitcher to beat the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series.

-- In his first time on the mound, Kenley Jansen will throw absolute smoke.

-- Mike MacDougal will again claim to be 185 pounds.

-- Mattingly will say he’s crazy about his rotation and in love with his bullpen. Heartbreak arrives with the hitters Feb. 27.

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Stop the presses! Ronald Belisario spotted at Dodgers camp

Ronald-belasario_600

There’s goes that spring suspense. Anyway, I think so. When the subject is Ronald Belisario (pictured above in 2010), it’s difficult to be certain of much.

Belisario had visa issues in each of the last three springs, apparently never getting one last year. At least he was never seen on U.S. soil.

But now comes word that -- maybe you should sit down -- Belisario not only already has his visa, but is at the Dodgers’ Camelback Ranch facility in Phoenix.

ESPN/L.A.'s Tony Jackson dropped by the team's "young guns" camp at Camelback on Sunday and guess who was there: everyone’s favorite hard-throwing, Venezuelan right-hander. Next thing I know, you’ll tell me Don Mattingly went drag queen in a Christmas show.

The Dodgers had better make sure he doesn’t go home for a visit before pitchers and catchers report Feb. 20. Not that the Dodgers would be wise to count on anything when it comes to Belisario.

He was something his rookie season (2.04 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings), if you disregard that DUI incident. The next season, late to camp again (presumably because the DUI affected his visa request), he was sometimes brilliant but mostly a mess (5.04, 1.29, 6.2). And that’s not counting his disappearance for a month reportedly to enter rehab.

Then came the announcement last December that Belisario had been suspended for 25 games for violating baseball’s drug policy. Given his history, the suspension might almost work in the Dodgers’ favor. It gives the team additional time to monitor his progress after sitting out all last season, and to make sure he’s clean and has his head together.

He has a lot to prove to win back the Dodgers’ trust, but apparently he’s here and ready to go for it. That alone is real progress, even if a suspense killer.

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Photo credit: Bret Hartman / For The Times

Curbing enthusiasm over return of Ronald Belisario

Dodgers_640All excited are you? Can’t get that heart to stop racing? Worried you’re going to hyperventilate?

Ronald Belisario is coming, Ronald Belisario is coming.

Supposedly. So his agent says. Complete with a 25-game suspension in tow for a drug-abuse violation.

Yeah, all underwhelmed. Belisario is about as reliable as a cellphone battery, although with a cellphone you at least have a warning when it’s going out. With Belisario, there’s no telling.

Now his agent says he’s actually managed to get a visa and plans to show up to spring training on time, which would be a first for him as a Dodger.

The first time he showed up late in 2009, he unexpectedly became a camp sensation. He made the team, threw some serious gas and finished the season with a 2.04 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 69 games.

After having bounced around in the minors for the previous nine years, you would have thought he’d embrace this late-career opportunity. Instead, it was more visa issues the next spring following a previous DUI arrest, two stints on the restricted list (one reportedly for rehab) and a season in which he seldom looked the same (5.04 ERA).

The Venezuelan never could get a visa last year. And now he’s supposed to be welcomed back with open arms? I think not. This is a player with a lot to prove, in terms of his mental commitment, his drug issues and his arm.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, they don’t truly need him. Buoyed by the arrival of several young arms last year, it’s pretty much full. General Manager Ned Colletti is still negotiating to bring back Mike MacDougal. Wisely, the Dodgers are not about to count on Belisario again.

If he does show up on time, proves he’s committed again, has overcome his drug issues and has the arm of 2009, then swell. It’s like bonus points. The suspension actually gives the Dodgers another month to figure out where he’s at.

The Dodgers don’t play their 26th game until May 4, at which time some reliever will have no doubt fallen victim to injury. Belisario is out of options.

He’ll turn 29 on New Year’s Eve, which is kinda scary. He deserves another chance but needs to be on one short leash. Because right now it almost feels like a warning: Ronald Belisario is coming.

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Photo: Ronald Belisario. Credit; Bret Hartman / For The Times

Ronald Belisario suspended for 25 games [UPDATED]

Ron5Reliever Ronald Belisario has received a visa valid for the next five years and is expected to be in Arizona for the start of spring training, but he won’t be on the Dodgers’ opening-day roster.

Belisario must serve a 25-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

The person did not say exactly how Belisario violated the policy. But according to the policy, a player can draw a 25-game suspension for only a few reasons:

1. A player is involved or suspected of being involved in with a drug of abuse, ordered to take part in a treatment program, and fails to comply.

2. A player tests positive for a stimulant.

3. A player is convicted or pleads guilty to using or possessing a prohibited substance that is considered a drug of abuse.

Belisario, who missed all of last season because of visa problems, left the Dodgers for more than a month during the 2010 season to receive treatment in a substance-abuse program.

[UPDATED, 7:14 a.m. Wednesday: The suspension falls under the "drug of abuse" standard rather than a "stimulant" standard, according to a person familiar with the matter.]

In 2009, the hard-throwing Venezuelan was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. He  pleaded to a lesser charge.

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-- Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shaikin

Photo: Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

Ronald Belisario receives visa, is expected to rejoin Dodgers

Ronald3
Reliever Ronald Belisario, who missed last season because he was unable to gain entry into the United States, has been granted a visa and is expected to be in camp for the start of spring training, according to his agent.

“He should be ready to go,” said Rick Oliver, who represents Belisario.

Armed with a mid-90s sinker, Belisario came out of nowhere to post a 2.04 earned-run average in 69 appearances as a rookie in 2009, but his career has since been derailed by a series of personal problems.

Facing drunk-driving charges, Belisario had trouble receiving a visa in 2010 and spent most of spring training in his native Venezuela. Later that year, he missed more than a month of the regular season to receive treatment in a substance-abuse program. He finished that season with a 5.04 ERA.

Unable to secure a visa, Belisario never made it out of Venezuela last year.

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Web musings: One former GM looks at Dodgers' options

What to do, what to do?

It could be an interesting off-season for the Dodgers. Or it could prove highly uneventful.

But what should they do? Suggestions will come from everywhere, but here’s one from a former general manager who has some big ideas. Jim Bowden, former GM for the Reds and Nationals but now a commentator for ESPN, is suggesting a powerhouse trade with the Reds.

Assuming the Dodgers can’t sign Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, Bowden thinks they should package Andre Ethier and Chad Billingsley to Cincinnati and consider trading James Loney to the Indians. Probably not for Carlos Santana, though.

Also on the Web:

-- Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy, has found a story from Venezuela that has Ronald Belisario claiming he's going to save 20 games -- for Bravos de Margarita.

-- Orange County Register columnist Mark Whicker is not liking the chances of Matt Kemp to win the National League MVP.

-- ESPN/L.A.’s Jon Weisman looks back on Eugenio Velez and his amazing O-fer streak, though predicts he will someday beat the Dodgers with a double down the line.

-- Vin Scully gives a lengthy interview on the Petros and Money Show on the Dodgers’ new station, KLAC-AM (570). Even Scully said he often second-guesses himself after a broadcast: "I'll go home and say, 'I wish I hadn't said that, or I wish I had said this.' "

-- A retired judge has officially been named mediator between the Dodgers and Major League Baseball in the team's bankruptcy proceeding.

-- CBS Sports found a funny spoof of the "Moneyball" trailer at Jest.com. First the actual trailer, followed by the spoof on the Yankees having too much money.

  

 And from Jest.com:

  

-- Steve Dilbeck

Don Mattingly, the ace and the bullpen from hell

Mattingly_640 There’s a time to show faith in your players, and a time to touch base with reality. Don Mattingly showed way too much love for his miserable bullpen Tuesday night.

They are not very good to begin with, and then they just got beat up for four wild days in Colorado. Not that it’s all their fault. Of the seven arms in the bullpen, only two were supposed to be here -- and that’s counting Blake Hawksworth, who might not have made it if Ronald Belisario ever discovered north from south.

The Dodgers sport the worst bullpen (4.80 ERA) in the National League. It ranks 29th in the majors, ahead of only Minnesota, though they are closing fast.

Yet Tuesday night in a 1-1 game after seven innings, with the guy who is their one legitimate stud in the rotation -- Clayton Kershaw -- throwing smoothly and in command, Mattingly lifted him to start the eighth ... because the Reds pinch-hit Miguel Cairo to lead off the inning?

At that point, Kershaw had allowed four hits and two walks (one intentional). He had thrown a reasonable 104 pitches. It was still his game to win or lose. Anyway, you would think so.

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Dodgers Web musings: L.A. drops five games back in 10 days, poised for historic May

Llogi7nc There is never a good time to stink it up, but some times seem worse than others.

Times like right now for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers were sort of drifting along, a game under .500, 10 days ago. Still, they took comfort in knowing that no team was making a run in the National League West and they remained a semi-comfortable 2½ games out.

But since then, the Dodgers have lost eight of 10. And this time making it painfully noticeable, the Giants have gotten hot and the Dodgers have dropped 7½ games out of first place.

Things are going so badly, ESPN/LA’s Jon Weisman notes that the Dodgers are a historic pace. They have to finish the month 4-3 to avoid their worst May since moving to Los Angeles.

Also on the Web:

-- The Times’ Ben Bolch chronicles the Dodgers’ latest staggering loss.

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