Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario says he's finally back. Really back.
After being five weeks late to spring training because of visa problems and missing the first two weeks of the regular season, the hard-throwing right-hander appears to have regained the form that made him a workhorse last year with 69 appearances and a 2.03 earned-run average.
When he was tapped to relieve starter Chad Billingsley in the seventh inning Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Belisario retired all five batters he faced and helped protect the Dodgers' 6-2 lead.
"I feel like I'm 100% right now," Belisario said Saturday, adding that his strongest pitch — a two-seam fastball that tails away from left-handed batters and crowds right-handers — was moving effectively.
Manager Joe Torre said the Venezuelan's performance Friday "was the best he's been since he's come back. The velocity was up, his movement was amazing."
Belisario said "I thought I was 100%" when he left camp in Arizona, "but I wasn't," and he clearly was rusty in his first few appearances. "Now I'm good," he said. "I'm ready to go."
Entering Saturday night's game, Belisario had pitched six innings overall in five appearances, allowing four earned runs and seven hits.
One of the Dodgers' top hitting prospects, outfielder Andrew Lambo, was suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy, the commissioner's office announced.
The suspension resulted from "a second positive test for a drug of abuse," according to the announcement. In keeping with baseball's policy, the drug was not identified.
Under that policy, any positive test for steroids results in a suspension. A first positive test for a "drug of abuse" — including but not limited to marijuana, cocaine, heroin and LSD — is not disclosed publicly and does not result in a suspension.
Lambo, 21, is a Beverly Hills native who was selected from Newbury Park High in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He was ranked by Baseball America as the Dodgers' top outfield prospect, and had batted .342 in 19 games at double-A Chattanooga.
"Obviously we're disappointed to learn of the test results and we hope he'll use this time to evaluate the decisions he has made and learns from this experience," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said in an e-mail. "We'll certainly use this time to help him work out his challenges."
The Dodgers also issued a statement saying they "fully support Major League Baseball's drug policy and its penalties."
Reliever Jeff Weaver, sidelined with a low back strain, threw a simulated game Saturday at Dodger Stadium and was expected to pitch Tuesday with the Dodgers' single-A team in San Bernardino in preparation of his return next Friday, Torre said.
Once back from the disabled list, the veteran right-hander is likely to be used in key situations rather than as a long reliever, Torre said.
"He does so well in clutch situations for us, so he'd be a guy you'd bring out of the bullpen to get out of an inning — [a] jam-type thing — or pitch an inning, start an inning," Torre said.
Homeboykris, a horse partly owned by Torre, finished 16th in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby.
Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.
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