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.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.