Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario in danger of missing season due to visa issues

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Ronald Belisario’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said yesterday that the Dodgers reliever is in danger of missing the entire season, telling Tony Jackson of ESPNLA.com that “he just has a lot of things he needs to get straightened out.”

Belisario’s arrival at Dodgers camp has been delayed by visa issues for the third year in a row. Last year he didn’t show up until a week or so before Opening Day and spent the first three weeks of the season on the restricted list, later leaving the team for a month due to undisclosed personal reasons.

Kinzer indicated that this year’s visa problems in Venezuela stem from whatever caused Belisario to leave the team last year, explaining that he’s “just not very optimistic” about the right-hander pitching for the Dodgers in 2011. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti is anything but surprised by Belisario’s situation:

When the season ended, I knew we could be walking this path again. I had no misconceptions that this was going to be an easy bridge to cross. Knowing what we went through a year ago, including in-season, I can’t say we built our bullpen with him in it. If he gets back and is in shape and can help our big league club win, we’ll examine it. As of right now, we’re not thinking about it. We will go forward as we are.

Belisario struggled in between all the off-field issues last season, posting a 5.04 ERA in 55 innings after thriving as a rookie with a 2.04 ERA in 71 innings. However, he pitched well in the Venezuelan winter league with 14 saves and a 1.00 ERA. Rather than dropping Belisario altogether the Dodgers can simply place him back on the restricted list, which allows them to retain his rights without committing a 40-man roster spot.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.