There was a Ronald Belisario sighting Thursday.
Watched by a crowd that included Manager Joe Torre, General Manager Ned Colletti and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Belisario took the mound at Dodger Stadium and threw a 25-pitch bullpen session.
"Getting close," Colletti said.
Belisario hasn't pitched in a month. The hard-throwing reliever was placed on the restricted list July 7, a move that removed him from the 40-man roster.
The Dodgers said Belisario left the team for personal reasons, but The Times reported he was receiving treatment in a substance-abuse program.
Belisario started working out at Dodger Stadium last week, but Thursday marked the first time he did so with teammates present.
Asked where he was for the last month, Belisario replied, "I can't talk about that yet."
Torre said Belisario could start a minor-league rehabilitation assignment as early as Saturday.
Torre continued to claim ignorance for the reasons behind Belisario's disappearance and Colletti continued to say he couldn't talk about it.
When Colletti was asked what was next for Belisario, he said, "We'll see. Some of it's out of our control."
Colletti declined to explain why that was the case.
Torre said he was under the impression that Belisario's return could be delayed by "the restricted list stuff."
A player on the restricted list is not paid.
This is Belisario's second time on the restricted list this year. The first time was in spring training, when the Venezuela native reported late because drunk-driving charges he faced at the time prevented him from securing a work visa in time.
Colletti was clearly irritated in spring training. When asked his feelings about Belisario and his current situation Colletti replied, "I wish he would have a good life and to not be encumbered by the many challenges ahead of him.… There's a human element that comes into play with all of us."
With catcher Russell Martin ruled out for the remainder of the season by Torre, catching duties will be split by 41-year-old Brad Ausmus and rookie A.J. Ellis — at least for now.
"I'll go back and forth and get a feel for it," Torre said.
Because Ausmus returned from back surgery less than three weeks ago, Torre said he is reluctant to play him every day.
Ausmus, who has announced he would retire at the end of the season, said he wasn't concerned about an increased workload.
"I'm really not worried about it," he said. "Whatever Joe needs. If he needs me to catch six days a week, that's fine. If he needs me to catch once a week, that's fine. I'm ready for anything.''
Optimistic about Furcal
Rafael Furcal was out of the lineup again, but he told the medical staff that his strained lower back felt significantly improved.
"Much better today," Torre said. "Hopefully, we'll have him back by the start of the next trip."
The Dodgers open a three-game series in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
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