Ronald Belisario needs a better travel agent.
For the third time in as many seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ righthander is stuck in his native Venezuela because of problems with his visa. The good news is that it looks like Belisario could allowed into the country soon for Spring Training – a far cry from reports earlier in the week that visa issues might force him to miss the entire season.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Belisario told a Venezuelan newspaper that he lost his passport and is in the process of getting a new one. However, Belisario’s agent says he knows nothing about that except to say he’s hoping the reports are accurate.
It’s become part of increasingly strange behavior from Belisario this time of year. In 2009, the reliever missed nearly two weeks of camp dealing with travel issues. Last season, Belisario didn’t get to Camelback Ranch until late March – nearly five weeks after the start of Spring Training. What was most disconcerting about last season’s issues were the persistent rumors that Belisario missed appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas that could have sped the process.
The Dodgers love that Belisario can be a colossal talent, as he showed during his breakthrough 2009 season. The team is increasingly frustrated that Belisario can also be a colossal head case, as evidenced by the downward spiral that was 2010. His 3-1 record belied a 5.04 ERA and a series of ever-worsening performances.
The worst of them came in back-to-back August outings, including one horrendous night in Philadelphia. Belisario entered to start the bottom of the 8th with Los Angeles leading 9-2 only to give up four runs on four hits and commit an unexcusable balk by faking a throw to third with no runner at the base. He left without recording an out and watched as the Phillies rallied to win, 10-9.
Dodger pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bullpen coach Ken Howell were going to have their work cut out for them trying to get Belisario’s head right. Now the organization has to wonder even more about his overall desire if he is continually failing to get his paperwork in order to show up at the start of camp. If his 2011 on the field is anything like 2010, the Dodgers might just prefer he stays home in 2012.
Fatten up on these tasty morsels from around Southern California baseball…
Hands of Clay(ton) – In the least surprising announcement you’ll probably hear out of Dodger camp all spring, new manager Don Mattingly officially named Clayton Kershaw as his Opening Day starter. Was there really any other choice? Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia wouldn’t give a name for his Opening Day starter, but we suspect it rhymes with Wered Jeaver.
Maybin’s Sweet & Sour Tweet – New Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin might be in a little trouble with the boss after a Twitter post gone awry. Maybin got sick after eating at a Panda Express near the team’s training complex in Peoria. He sent out a tweet advising people to “(n)ever eat panda express”, saying it had him down for two days. Too bad one Tom Davin – the CEO of Panda Express – happens to be one of the team’s owners. Oops. Maybin has since deleted the tweet, apologized and tweeted positive things about the chain.
Bear Market – SoCal college baseball isn’t what it once was. The seeds of the Southland used to regularly grow into Top 25 programs. But the release of the USAToday/ESPN preseason poll saw only two Southern California teams get a nod. UCLA came in at number one after finishing as the runner up to South Carolina last year. The only other team in the Top 25 is Cal State Fullerton at number nine. Baseball America’s preseason rankings were about the same, with UCLA at number two and Fullerton at number eight.
Young King Cole – UCLA junior Gerrit Cole is known to many around college baseball as The Guy Who Turned Down The Yankees. After his season-opening start against the University of San Francisco, people should start calling him by the name his momma gave him. Cole went the distance, striking out 11 in the Bruins’ 1-0 win over the Dons. He scattered four hits, walked one and faced just two over the minimum. His next start will likely be on Tuesday against San Jose State.