Surprise! Bellorin Remains a Dodger

VERO BEACH, Fla.- His appearances have been limited but when he's been in there, Edwin Bellorin has been playing quite well for the Dodgers. That shouldn't come as a shock; he has the talent to do that. The big surprise is that he's here doing it at all.

You see, for a good part of last season, Edwin was preparing to say, "Adios" to the Los Angeles system. This was his seventh year in the minors and quite probably it was time to move on. He certainly had indications that the powers-that-be held him in no great regard.

In 2004, he had been a solid fixture for Jacksonville. He's always been a more than capable catcher, skilled in the areas that a good receiver should be.

He also had opened up his stance to deliver a .281 average at the plate. Nice, enough but that didn't make him Russell Martin, the coming man behind the mask who was set to move up to Double A. And with the trade for Dioner Navarro, there was no room at Triple A, either.

So his reward for having such a year was to get demoted to Vero Beach. Thus, Edwin said, "At the end of the year I can become a free agent. I'll talk to the people in L.A. and ask what their plans are for me. If they don't seem to have any, I'll become a free agent and move on."

His year at Vero was just like the one he'd had before- good work back of and at the plate (he hit .273). But when he talked to the Dodgers, they told him he wasn't going to be placed on the 40-man roster. So, he filed for free agency as he said he would, went home to Venezuela and mulled over his future.

There was another item of considerable note in his life going on at the same time. While at Jacksonville, he had met a girl, started dating and soon became engaged. Last summer, she joined him at Vero to spend considerable time with him. And she had plans, too.

"She told me that we should get married, then we would make our home in Jacksonville fulltime," Edwin explains. "I told her, 'I'm a free agent. It's important that I go play winter ball in Venezuela so other teams can see me. That's what I did and while I was there, I got an e-mail from a friend in Jacksonville that she had started seeing another guy.' "

So the romance had ended but meanwhile the offers for other employment began coming in. At least five clubs contacted him about signing with them. However, the rub was that none of the offers contained a major league contract. Then, the Dodgers called him back.

"They said they wanted to send me up to Jacksonville where I'd catch every day. I figured if it's not the major leagues, it might as well be in Jacksonville." He likes the city, the fans and certainly all his amigos in the Dodger system. So, he re-signed with L.A. and, in turn, got this invitation to train with the big club as a non-roster invitee.

As for the end of the engagement, he simply says, "Those things happen." with a shoulder shrug, rather than a slump.

Despite those seven years in the pro game, he's still only 24 and all he has to do is look across the clubhouse at Pat Borders and see how long skills such as his can keep you in the game. Time's hardly running out on him.

So, he knows he's not here to make the team this year but rather to fill a role. Some years ago, fellow Venezuelan Henry Blanco was around here in the same situation and last I looked, he was still plying his trade at the big league level.

That girl may have given up on Edwin but the Dodgers and baseball haven't. And that's where his heart really lies so as Martin moves up another notch, don't fret Jacksonville. You have a catcher.