Yesterday agent Paul Kinzer told Tony Jackson of ESPNLA.com that Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario is unlikely to pitch this season because of visa problems in Venezuela.
However, today Belisario told a Venezuelan newspaper that he plans to report to spring training soon and his arrival has simply been delayed by a lost passport.
Here’s more from Belisario, via Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
I lost my passport and I have an appointment set for Friday. I passed the embassy’s medical examinations, and all I have to do is get the passport. Of course, I’ll go to spring training. As soon as I get the passport, I’ll go back to the embassy to get a visa.
Of course, when told of Belisario’s comments Kinzer replied: “That would be news to me.”
Kinzer also told Hernandez that Belisario “has gone kind of quiet” and “I haven’t heard from him in a few weeks.” All of which makes it seem sort of strange that the agent would have been so willing to speak about Belisario’s status and strongly state that the reliever was unlikely to pitch for the Dodgers this season. If they haven’t spoken for weeks, how would he know?
Also of note is that Hernandez says the reason Belisario left the Dodgers for a month last season (after reporting late to spring training thanks to via problems) was “to receive treatment in a substance-abuse program.” He returned to the team in August and proceeded to post a 7.32 ERA in 24 appearances down the stretch. So while Kinzer and Belisario being so far apart in their assessment of his status seems awfully strange, something tells me this whole thing isn’t just about a misplaced passport.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.