Dodgers' Belisario Falls From Grace

Remember Ronald Belisario? The relief pitcher -- the one who came from nowhere to become a huge member of the Dodgers bullpen in 2009, showed up more than a month late to spring training in 2010 and then never made it to U.S. in 2011 -- is back in the news. Just before Christmas, agent Rick Oliver said his client had obtained a work visa and would be ready for the start of spring training.

Later in the week, the Commissioner's Office announced that Belisario must serve a 25-game suspension for violating the Joint Drug Program. The 25-game suspensions are not for performance-enhancing drugs. They are generally for drugs of abuse.

Belisario was cited for a DUI during the 2009 season. That made it more difficult for him to obtain a work visa from his native Venezuela in 2010. He didn't show up until a few days before the team broke camp, and he was placed on the restricted list for 30 days while getting his arm in shape in the minor leagues.

The Dodgers were counting on Belisario in 2010, and he let them down. His ERA rose from 2.04 in 2009 to 5.04 in 2010. Also that season, he left the team for about a month to reportedly enter a treatment center.

Fooled in 2010, the Dodgers didn't count on Belisario in 2011. They signed Matt Guerrier to a three-year contract and Vicente Padilla to a one-year contract, not knowing when the troubled reliever would arrive in spring training.

As it turned out, he never showed up at all.

Team officials' recent philosophy on Belisario is if they see him in the country, at spring training headquarters, then they'll determine if he's good enough to make the team. But he's not guaranteed of a roster spot and is not part of their planning at all.

Even if he does show up and serves his suspension, the other question is whether the devastating mid-90s sinkerball is still there. He didn't pitch at all this year. He was ineffective in 2010. He'll turn 30 on New Year's Eve. And he's out of options, so the Dodgers can't send him to the minors without clearing waivers.

This winter, he's pitching in the Venezuelan winter league. That's where he was spotted by a Dodgers scout three offseasons ago. After 22 appearances, Belisario had five saves, five blown saves, 21 strikeouts, 15 walks, four hit batters and three wild pitches, leading to a 4.09 ERA.

Dodgers' Sale Stalled by Fox Appeal
--The Dodgers' attempt at pushing through the sale of future broadcasting rights was put on hold by a federal judge Friday, pending his review of Fox network's appeal regarding the auction.

Federal Judge Leonard Stark said the team's sale by the end of April is separate from a deal regarding its broadcast rights, and they are not dependent on one another, according to a report on MLB.com.

Bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross originally approved the sale of the club and its broadcasting rights together with it being finalized by the end of April.

Fox balked at the move, however, saying its Prime Ticket channels in Los Angeles had a deal with the team to televise games through the 2013 season and an exclusive window to work out a new pact in October 2012. Fox said its programming would suffer and the viability of its Prime Ticket offering would plummet if the court changed its deal with the Dodgers.

Stark said Fox, according to the MLB.com report, has a "strong likelihood of success" adding that the previous order has "one or more clearly erroneous findings of fact."

The Dodgers were set to pull in $3 billion over a 17-year pact they established with Fox in June, but MLB stepped in and squashed that deal.

NOTES, QUOTES
--3B Casey Blake, whose $6 million option for 2012 was declined by the Dodgers in November, signed with the Rockies. The sides agreed to a non-guaranteed contract worth $2 million plus $1 million in performance bonuses. Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances for the Dodgers in 2011, spending three trips to the disabled list. He had surgery in September and must pass a physical after the holidays.

--LHP John Grabow was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Grabow, 33, will compete for a job in a Dodgers bullpen that is short on lefties. Over the last two seasons, both with the Chicago Cubs, Grabow has a 5.52 ERA, has struck out 5.9 per nine innings and has walked 4.2 per nine innings. He has missed time with knee and shoulder injuries.

--RHP Mike MacDougal remains a free agent, and the Dodgers remain interested in signing him, but only at the right price. A former all-star closer with the Royals, MacDougal was in the spot of newly signed John Grabow a year ago. He signed a minor league contract, won a job out of spring training and pitched his way to a prominent late inning role with the team.

--Manager Don Mattingly, ever the good sport for anything in his hometown of Evansville, Ind., donned a wig and giant skirt to participate in a rendition of "The Nutcracker."

--Front office executives Vance Lovelace and Rick Ragazzo were given greater authority in the organization with some tweaking to their responsibilities. Both previously had the generic "special assistant to the GM" titles. Lovelace is now the director of player personnel, and Ragazzo is director of pro scouting. This is all part of the restructuring done after Kim Ng left her post as assistant GM. Alex Tamin was hired earlier this offseason to focus on player analysis and arbitration preparation.

BY THE NUMBERS: 15

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I will spend that money on something meaningful for children." -- Popular former Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park, on pitching in his native South Korea for the first time in his career and donating his entire salary to youth baseball. Park signed a minimum contract with the Hanwha Eagles, which is 24 million won, or $20,600 in American dollars. The Korea Baseball Organization needed to change its rules for Park. Previously, a player who left for an oversees league had to enter a rookie draft to join the league for the first time. In 17 years in the U.S., Park pitched for seven teams and won 124 games -- the most by any Asian-born pitcher in major league history.

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