Attention Dodger fans, attention, we have a Belisario sighting! Ronald Belisario has arrived to spring training several weeks early. That’s how he rolls. He’s either several weeks early, several weeks late, or he doesn’t show up at all. Ronald Belisario is either a month late or a dollar short. There is no happy medium with him. He was seen at the Dodger’s spring training complex in Camelback Ranch, Glendale, Arizona working out and preparing for the upcoming season. He is just a tad bit early though. It seems Belisario just can’t get it right. If he doesn’t repeat his vanishing act from last year, he could give the Dodgers a big boost in the bullpen
Belisario was originally signed as a 16-year old amateur free agent by the Marlins in 1999. He played in the minor leagues until needing Tommy John Surgery in 2005. Then he missed the entire 2006 season because of an unspecified reason.
He resurfaced in 2007 with the Pirates, and he advanced up to Double-AA ball. He remained in the Pirates’ system until 2009 when the Dodgers signed him to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League spring training. Of course Belisario was late to camp in 2009, and he wasn’t added to the Dodgers roster until April 6th, making his major league debut on April 7th. He pitched in 69 games for the Dodgers in 2009, posting an ERA of 2.04, 64 strikeouts, and a 4-3 record. In 2010 Belisario was expected to anchor the Dodgers bullpen, but and get ready for a surprise, Belisario was late getting to spring training. Stemming from a DUI charge, Belisario was nearly five weeks late to spring training. He didn’t join the team until March 27th, and he was put back on the roster on April 21. Then during the middle of the season, on July 7th, perhaps when we needed him the most, he disappeared. His whereabouts were unknown, and he was placed on the Restricted list for unspecified reasons again. It was rumored that he had a drug addiction problem, and he all of a sudden re-appeared with the team on August 10th of 2010. He struggled a lot, and it came to a head in a series in Philadelphia where Belisario was seen with his head down and appeared to be crying in the dugout after giving up several runs in a game against the Phillies. Despite his mental breakdown, the Dodgers were still hoping he could contribute. In 2010 he finished with a 3-1 record, an uncharacteristically high ERA of 5.04, and 2 saves in 55 innings.
Once the 2011 season approached, Belisario was rumored to be late to spring training again. However this time he would not even make it into the country, unable to because of more visa problems. The team was informed by his agent that he was unable to be granted a new visa, and wouldn’t be able to get out of Venezuela at all. On April 19, he was placed on the restricted list again, and we wondered if we would ever see the Venezeulan righty in Dodger Blue ever again……until this week that is. He was spotted down in Glendale, Arizona working hard to prepare for the 2012 season.
Ronald Belisaro is 29-years old and originally from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela. He is 6’3, 235 pounds, and a right handed pitcher. The Dodgers learned that Belisario had applied and been granted a five year extension on his visa, but will have to serve a 25-game suspension first for an unknown violation of Baseball’s drug policy. If Belisario can stay out of trouble, and actually hang around instead of pulling his yearly disappearing act, then the Dodgers might have an extra power arm in the late innings.
Belisario’s unreliability was more costly to the Dodgers then most people might think. Because of Belisario’s disappearance, the Dodgers and then manager Joe Torre were forced to overuse setup man Ramon Troncoso. Tron’s arm was overused into deterioration. Expect a post coming soon on the rise and fall of Ramon Troncosco’s sinker ball. Basically once Belisario disappeared, Troncoso got the most of Belisario’s workload, and it blew out his arm. As a result, this eventually cost the Dodgers two effective relievers. The back end of the Dodger bullpen is one of the few areas on the Dodger roster that is not entirely set in stone. There could be one or possibly two spots up for grabs. But if Belisaro is already physically down in Camelback Ranch in Glendale Arizona, then we’re already way ahead of the game. Getting Belisario across the border is the hardest part of the season. Maybe the Dodgers should have tried sneaking him across the border or shipping him in one of those huge sacks of Dodger Peanuts last year.
Belisario did pitch in the Venezuelan league this winter, but struggled. He pitched in 23 games, posted a 5.16 ERA, recorded 21 whiffs, and allowed 27 hits, and 15 walks in 22.2 innings. His inconsistency this winter is a bit concerning, but I think rust could play a part, because I’m not sure how long he had gone without pitching in games. I can’t find any projections for him, because no one expected him to actually show up to spring training camp. However just hearing that he has showed up is very encouraging.
If Belisario has battled his demons, and can prove he is reliable, the Dodgers might have a big addition to the bullpen. When Belisario is healthy, he has generally been an effective pitcher. He had an 8.2 SO/9 rate in 2009, and is generally good at inducing ground balls in late innings. Belisario has a good fastball with late movement, and a hard sinker. Now if Belisario can keep from pulling another Houdini on the Dodgers, then the Dodger Bullpen will be a lot better in 2012. Am I Right Dodger fans?