Dodgers right-hander Ronald Belisario's arrival at Spring Training has been delayed by visa problems for the third straight season. The reliever told Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes (as passed on by Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times) that he had lost his passport and was working to get it replaced, but this news surprised Belisario's agent Paul Kinzer, who told Hernandez a day earlier that Belisario was unlikely to be approved to enter the United States and would probably have to miss the seaason.
Kinzer said on Wednesday that he was "not very optimistic" about Belisario pitching in the majors, and said the following day that Belisario's claim of a lost passport was "news to me." Kinzer also admitted that he hadn't heard from his client "in a few weeks." If Belisario isn't at Spring Training by February 26, Hernandez notes the Dodgers could remove him from the 40-man roster but still retain his rights by placing him on the restricted list.
Belisario posted a 2.04 ERA and an 8.2 K/9 rate in 69 relief appearances in his 2009 rookie year, but struggled both on the field (a 5.04 ERA in 59 games) and off (a month-long leave of absence from the team that was reportedly due to substance-abuse rehab) in 2010. ESPNLosAngeles.com's Tony Jackson hears from Kinzer that Belisario's problems in obtaining a visa are related to his off-the-field problems last summer.
Belisario was pitching extremely well in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, but given these repeated problems, you wonder how long the Dodgers will tolerate him. The team's recent acquisitions of Juan Rincon and Lance Cormier — plus their interest in Jeff Weaver — indicates the Dodgers are already getting some right-handed options in place should Belisario indeed not be able to pitch.