This morning, it was “we don’t expect Ronald Belisario to arrive today.” Okay, no one really expected him to be completely on time, so if he’s a day or two late, no big deal. Right?
Yeah, about that…
Ronald Belisario could miss the 2011 season, according to his agent, Paul Kinzer.
Pitchers and catchers were supposed to report to the Dodgers’ spring-training complex on Wednesday, but Belisario wasn’t there. The hard-throwing reliever reported late to camp in each of the last two years because of visa problems.
His latest problems could be more serious.
Kinzer would not specify why Belisario was still in his native Venezuela. But asked if Belisario was having trouble securing a visa, Kinzer replied, “It goes a little deeper than that.”
Kinzer said he didn’t think Belisario would be able to enter the United States at any time this year.
“Unless some things change drastically, I’m not very optimistic at this point,” Kinzer said.
Every time I read that quote, all I can think of is Ron Burgundy in Anchorman: “Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.”
(Cue Belisario: “I killed a guy with a trident. I stabbed him right in the heart.”)
I’m going to predict the fan reaction here, and that’ll be “cut him loose! He’s unreliable! We don’t need him! Get rid of him!” That’s fair, but also unnecessary. If he doesn’t report, then the team can just put him on the restricted list, freeing up the 40-man roster spot. Any action beyond that is obviously going to depend greatly on what the circumstances are here, though I must admit I’m less interested in knowing what’s really going on than I am in knowing why this is just being brought to light now.
There’s always a silver lining, however, and in this case there’s two. First, seems like I’ll be able to keep up the “Has Belisario Reported Yet?” image on the sidebar there for quite some time. Second, you know there’s a few guys doing a jig in Arizona right now – guys like Blake Hawksworth, Ron Mahay, Ramon Troncoso, Scott Elbert, and even Lance Cormier, who all just saw their chances of making the club rise by quite a bit.
Unrelated, but still interesting. All winter, we’ve been treating it as a foregone conclusion that Tony Gwynn, Jay Gibbons, and Marcus Thames would all make the team because of their major-league contracts. Not so fast, says Tony Jackson…
Gibbons’ ability to play first base and the outfield could be a factor in the ultimate decision as to whether to go with five infielders and six outfielders or vice versa. But although Gibbons’ contract is technically a major league deal, the fact that he has to actually make the club to get the last $250,000 of his $650,000 salary means he isn’t viewed as a lock. If he has a bad spring and the Dodgers cut him loose, that would open a spot for an outfielder — presumably Paul — and another utility infielder. Thames could serve as the backup first baseman if Gibbons isn’t around.
I still think that Gibbons is an overwhelming favorite to make the club – whether that’s deserved or not – but this is the first indication we’ve heard that his chances may be at something less than 100%. It gives Xavier Paul a ray of hope, anyway.
Finally, as you’ve no doubt seen elsewhere, Don Mattingly named Clayton Kershaw as the Opening Day starter today. I’ve long felt that the gig was completely overrated, but I definitely dig Mattingly’s style of getting it out of the way on the first day, rather than waiting until camp was nearly over like Joe Torre did last year.