UPDATE: Belisario is expected to report to spring training on time after securing his visa, but he won’t be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster. According to Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, he must serve a 25-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy.
No word on the exact nature of the offense, but Belisario did miss more than a month during the 2010 season in order to receive treatment for a substance-abuse problem.
7:30 PM ET: Ronald Belisario spent the entire 2011 season on the Dodgers’ restricted list after failing to secure a visa in his native Venezuela, but we learned earlier this month that he was working with government officials to get clearance to return to the United States. Those efforts have proved successful.
Rick Oliver, Belisario’s agent, told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times today that his client was granted a visa and is expected to be in camp for the start of spring training.
Belisario, who turns 29 later this month, posted a surprising 2.04 ERA and 64/29 K/BB ratio over 70 2/3 innings as a rookie back in 2009, but he’s dealt with personal issues ever since. He had trouble securing a visa before spring training in 2010 due to a DUI charge and missed two months during the season in order to receive treatment for a substance-abuse problem. He ended up finishing his sophomore campaign with a disappointing 5.04 ERA over 59 appearances.
While it looks like the Dodgers will have another option for their bullpen during spring training, Belisario’s numbers in the Venezuelan Winter League don’t inspire much confidence. He currently has a 4.09 ERA, five saves and an ugly 21/15 K/BB ratio over 22 innings with Bravos de Margarita.
It isn’t difficult to see the fingerprints left by Cubs’ president Tom Ricketts and general manager Theo Epstein on the club’s remarkable 2016 season. In a piece for FOXSports.com, former Yankee Alex Rodriguez highlighted the duo’s effectiveness in liberating the Cubs from a five-year losing streak and six-year postseason drought, citing both the unrelenting work ethic and passion that Ricketts and Epstein brought to the club as major factors in their success.
Rodriguez’s first brush with sabermetric savant and all-around baseball wizard Theo Epstein came in 2003, when the then- 27-year-old All-Star was eyeing a deal with the Red Sox. The Major League Baseball Players Association eventually nixed the trade, and the Rangers’ young shortstop was sent to the Yankees shortly thereafter, but not before Rodriguez glimpsed the inner workings of Epstein’s mind.
What I remember best about that time was watching Theo furiously scribbling out the Red Sox lineup for the upcoming season on a room-service napkin. That’s when I saw Theo’s baseball mind at work. I saw he had a passion for the game, a depth of knowledge, and a thirst to be great. Theo’s passion was contagious. We were three 20-somethings convinced we were about to turn baseball upside down together. Though I never got a chance to work with Theo, I knew then that he was going to be a force.
A-Rod also referenced Ricketts’ thorough approach to rebuilding the organization. Ricketts, who purchased the franchise for $875 million in 2009, first made it his mission to transform Wrigley Field into a comfortable and enticing playing environment, then targeted top-tier management to run the show behind the scenes. With Ricketts fully backing Epstein’s transformative approaches — including an overhaul of the Cubs’ farm system, investments in international player development, and a comprehensive understanding and practical application of sabermetric advances — the Cubs’ path to a 97-win season in 2015 seemed a natural consequence of the pair’s hard work.
This year, the attention has been even more intensely focused on the Cubs’ elusive third World Series title. Rodriguez, however, believes that winning a championship is secondary to the strides Ricketts and Epstein have taken with the club.
Together, Ricketts and Epstein have built one of the greatest franchises in baseball and transformed 1060 W. Addison St. It’s a task that no one could quite get right for a hundred years. While four more wins would put a giant exclamation point on five years of focused work and determination, I won’t worry if this team doesn’t win the World Series in the next nine days.
Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports that the Mets are expected to pick up the 2017 option for Reyes, but they haven’t done it yet. The option will be worth the major league minimum salary ($507,500), as the Rockies will continue to pay down the remainder of Reyes’ $41 million remaining on his contract.
The Mets signed Reyes after the Rockies released him in June. He had a .659 OPS in Colorado but improved to a .769 OPS in 279 plate appearances with the Mets, mostly playing third base in place of the injured David Wright. Bringing Reyes back next season will provide them more insurance at the hot corner.
Reyes, 33, served a 51-game suspension due to an offseason domestic violence incident while on vacation in Hawaii with his wife. As a result, he didn’t make his season debut until July 5, having spent some additional time in the minor leagues to get into game shape.