The weird thing with Ronald Belsiario, whom Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles says is in jeopardy of missing the 2011 season, was that he ever became an important pitcher for the Dodgers in the first place.
His credentials at Spring Training 2009 were less than zero, making his late arrival there irrelevant, and less than a week before Opening Day that year, he remained practically a non-entity. Then he came, was seen and conquered. On July 1, he had a 1.89 ERA with 46 strikeouts against 55 baserunners in 47 2/3 innings.
He soon was forced to miss a month of the season with some personal and physical problems, but still finished the year strong. Only a run he allowed on the final day of the season pushed his ERA over 2.00.
But then came the chaos of 2010 — an even later arrival, followed by almost none of the consistent excellence the previous year had offered. His rate of baserunners allowed went up; his strikeout rate went down. The lowest his ERA sat at any point last year was 3.79 on July 5, after a three-inning shutout performance that was immediately followed by another sabbatical of more than a month. On August 12, he was a conspirator in one of the Dodgers’ devastating losses, allowing four of the eight runs the team gave up in the final two innings of a 10-9 defeat at Philadelphia.
As divided as fans can be on pitchers like Jonathan Broxton, they were united this offseason on Belisario. I doubt there was anyone who didn’t cast a dubious eye on his presence on the 2011 roster, wondering if he could be relied upon in any sense.
There are certain players who, no matter how talented they were at one point, will always be remembered for the air of mystery or confusion that so often surrounded them. Belisario may well make it back to the big leagues someday, with the Dodgers or some other team, but something tells me his name will always evoke a sigh.
I hope Belisario finds his way through his problems. Boy, never a dull moment with this Dodger team …
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Using my Spring Training Primer for reference, Belisario’s absence strengthens the hold that Kenley Jansen and Blake Hawksworth have on bullpen spots (behind Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier and Vincente Padilla), and takes a hurdle away from Ron Mahay, Scott Elbert and Ramon Troncoso, who figure to be the leaders (in that order) in the battle for a theoretical seventh relief spot.