One of the running subplots of spring training has been the continued absence of reliever Ronald Belisario, held up in his native Venezuela due to visa problems for the second year in a row. This happens to a few players every year, so while disappointing, it’s not all that surprising.
Just a week ago, Tony Jackson reported that part of the reason for Belisario’s issue was the DUI he picked up last summer:
Because of the DUI charge, the visa application was sent back from Washington to Venezuela for some additional clarification, and then sent back to Washington for final approval. Once that approval is granted — that, apparently, is what Belisario is presently waiting for — Belisario would be permitted to enter the U.S. within a couple of days.
“I think it’s tied up in Washington,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “I’m not sure he can do anything about it at this point. I’m not saying that was always the case, but that is where it is now.”
I think we can all identify with government bureaucracy and red tape, though of course Belisario isn’t blameless since he stupidly got behind the wheel after a few too many. However, Roberto of the great Vin Scully is my Homeboy puts his translation skills to use and finds that the reason for the holdup may be due to more than just last year’s arrest:
According to El Universal, a newspaper from Venezuela, Los Angeles Dodgers Pitcher Ronald Belisario has missed three dates with the U.S. embassy in Caracas.
I present this with the standard “Central & South American newspapers aren’t always the most reliable” grain of salt disclaimer. Still, if it’s true and he can’t be bothered to even show up for a meeting, one has to wonder how seriously he’s taking his career. Clearly, Ned Colletti is already bothered by it (from the Jackson article):
“While he is sitting in Venezuela, other people are here trying to make the club,” Colletti said. “Maybe one of them will take food off his table.”
As others have noted, despite the fact that he’s out of options, the Dodgers won’t simply lose him if he reports too late to be on the Opening Day roster; they can place him on the suspended list. Who stands to benefit if an extra roster spot opens up in the bullpen, at least in the early going? Perhaps Charlie Haeger, also out of options, who isn’t doing himself any favors by getting hit hard in his first outings and then being taken off the Taiwin trip due to hip discomfort. Or Josh Lindblom, of whom Joe Torre recently said, “his ball explodes at the end with something on it.” Or Rule 5 pick Carlos Monasterios, who got off to a nice start by allowing just one hit in two scoreless innings of work, or even undead
Russ Ramon Ortiz, showing some life with five scoreless innings in his first two outings.
I’m not one to put much stock in spring statistics from this early, so don’t take that as me saying
Russ Ramon Ortiz is “back”. The point is, there’s no shortage of qualified pitchers dying to take Belisario’s roster spot if he can’t manage to get in the country and prove he hasn’t fallen too far behind.