The Dodgers on Thursday activated Ronald Belisario from the restricted list now that his 25-game suspension has been served. Belisario, who missed all of last season after failing to get a work visa, last pitched in the major leagues on October 1, 2010.
Belisario is out of options and has already been outrighted once in his career, meaning he would have to approve any assignment to the minor leagues.
To make room for Belisario on the active roster, the Dodgers designated Mike MacDougal for assignment. MacDougal, who won a roster spot on a minor league deal last season, signed a major league deal worth a guaranteed $1 million this season but has struggled to throw strikes pretty much since the beginning of spring training, even more so than his career mark of 4.8 walks per nine innings would imply.
MacDougal had a 7.94 ERA in 7 games this season, with six walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
Belisario pitched in four games during his rehab assignment, allowing four runs in two games April 25 and April 28 with Class A Rancho Cucamonga, then he pitched on back-to-back nights with Triple A Albuquerque on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday night, Belisario allowed a pair of unearned runs and last night Belisario allowed a leadoff single but finished with three groundouts for his first scoreless outing during the rehab assignment.
That Belisario gave up runs during his rehab assignment (six runs in 4 2/3 innings, with two walks and a strikeout) isn't a huge concern. Those games were literally just to get Belisario some game reps before rejoining the Dodgers.
Whatever evaluation was made of Belisario was made both during spring training and in the ensuing time in extended spring training in Glendale, Arizona during his suspension, not just during a week's worth of minor league games designed to get Belisario ready for big league action.
"His velocity was up, and like before you saw sink," manager Don Mattingly said of Belisario's spring training work last week. "We didn't see consistency. His stuff was still good, but he just wasn't getting the ball where he needed to get it."
Obviously the Dodgers felt confident enough in Belisario's stuff that they were willing to give him another chance. "Beli's stuff never really been in question. It's always been good," Mattingly said.
With Belisario, it is the other stuff that seems to get in the way. From his DUI arrest in 2009, to showing up five weeks late to spring training in 2010, to being placed on the restricted list for a month during the 2010 season while reportedly undergoing substance abuse treatment, to missing an entire season in 2011 because he was unable to secure a work visa, to getting suspended for 25 games for cocaine use, a drug Belisario says he tried just once, Belisario has never been someone to be counted on.
But the fact that Belisario showed up very early this year - he showed up in Arizona on January 23, nearly a month before his reporting date - went a long way in proving his commitment. Now he just has to prove he can get major league hitters out. The Dodgers are betting he can.
Now that the Dodgers have added one Venezuelan to their roster in Belisario, will they add another in Bobby Abreu? The 40-man roster has 39 players, so there is room for Abreu.