On an otherwise quiet off day, we learned that the Dodgers designated relief pitcher Ramon Troncoso for assignment to make room for Ronald Belisario on the 40-man roster. The Dodgers needed to activate Belisario from the Restricted List by MLB’s Thursday deadline. Ronald Belisario will still be required to serve a 25-game suspension starting on Opening Day after testing positive for cocaine last year.
Both pitchers are out of options. Once Belisario completes his suspension, the Dodgers will have to either activate him and add him to the Major League level, or he would have to clear waivers before being assigned a minor league job.
Belisario, attempting to make a comeback, has pitched four innings this Spring. He has allowed three earned runs and five hits with three strikeouts and one walk. His Spring ERA is 6.75. Belisario did not pitch at all last year after he was unable to obtain a VISA to leave his home country of Venezuela after testing positive for cocaine. He insisted it was just a “one-time thing,” and he is clean now.
“I don’t have a problem with any drugs — that’s all behind me,” Belisario said.
Ironically, it was Belisario’s shortcomings during his sophomore season which triggered Joe Torre to overuse Ramon Troncoso in 2010. Belisario had a great 2009 season with the Dodgers. He finished with a 4-3 record and 2.04 ERA in 70.2 innings pitched. He struck out 64 batters and walked 29. The next season Belisario was five weeks late to Spring Training due to VISA problems stemming from a DUI charge out of Pasadena in ’09. His ERA jumped up by three full points in his 55.1 innings of work. That season Belisario missed a whole month when he was undergoing rehab for substance abuse.
Now with Belisario’s return, Troncoso’s Dodger career is on the brink. Troncoso, also a right-handed reliever, has pitched five innings this Spring. He has a 5.40 ERA, allowing three earned runs and eight hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Like Belisario, Troncoso had a very good 2009 season with the Dodgers. He was 5-4 with 6 saves and a 2.72 ERA in 82.2 innings pitched. Sadly, his arm would not survive the Torre era. Much like Jonathan Broxton‘s overuse by Torre, Troncoso would never pitch the same in the subsequent years. He was shuffled between AAA and the big team multiple times, and we witnessed many horrendous outings by the Dominican pitcher.
I remember the moment when I realized Troncoso was on a downward spiral. On May 22, 2010 I watched Tron bean Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers at Dodger Stadium. He only pitched 2/3 of an inning, but he gave up a homerun and a walk. Then fortunately he got the Tigers to hit into a DP before the hit batter. He was replaced by Jeff Weaver. Jonathan Broxton got the save that day, and the Dodgers still won 6-4. He just didn’t look right to me. I think that was the beginning of the end.
If Troncoso clears waivers, he could be right back in Albuquerque again. Yet this very well could be goodbye for Tron. He’s one of the last holdouts from the bullpen mismanagement fiasco that was Joe Torre. In a way Troncoso and Belisario’s careers have always been oddly intertwined.