UPDATE: Ronald Belisario to serve 25-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy

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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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.