12/04/11 10:03 PM EST
Belisario trying to return to Dodgers
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
General manager Ned Colletti wouldn't characterize the odds of Belisario actually showing up at Camelback Ranch-Glendale in February, but he confirmed that the right-hander has been working with government officials to allow his return.
Belisario and visa problems are old friends, but his addition in 2012 would be as much of a boost as his unreliability was a detriment to the Dodgers in 2010 and 2011 after he was the surprise of the 2009 season.
After wearing out his welcome as a Minor Leaguer with Florida and Pittsburgh -- he missed the 2005 season with Tommy John surgery and 2006 with an unspecified suspension -- Belisario was signed out of the Venezuela Winter League in 2009 as a free agent by former Dodgers scout Ron Rizzi (who recently left and was hired by Washington).
Belisario reported that spring three weeks late with visa problems and was sent to Minor League camp after one spring appearance, only to pitch lights-out in Minor League camp to get a second look with the Major League team at the end of March and make the Opening Day roster.
Belisario, 29 at the end of this month, became a workhorse that year, making 69 appearances with a 2.03 ERA. He threw a fastball in the mid-90s with a diving sinker.
But he was five weeks late to Spring Training with more visa problems in 2010, his status complicated by a driving-under-the-influence charge in Pasadena in 2009. A disastrous sophomore year followed that included a month-long drug rehab and a whopping three-run increase in his ERA. The domino effect resulted in the overuse of Ramon Troncoso, costing the club two effective relievers.
Colletti decided not to rely on Belisario in 2011, but it came at a high cost -- the signing of setup man Matt Guerrier to a three-year, $12 million contract. Guerrier had a somewhat disappointing first season with the Dodgers, but at least he was there and took the ball. Belisario never got out of Venezuela -- again with visa problems and rumors of more drug issues -- and spent the entire season on the Dodgers restricted list.
Belisario has been pitching in the Venezuela Winter League, where he has a 3.50 ERA in 18 appearances with four saves, 18 strikeouts, 12 walks and a .208 opponents batting average.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.