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Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario 'a nice surprise,' manager says

The pitcher, who missed last season and served a suspension earlier this year, was 3-0 with a 1.25 earned-run average entering play Wednesday.

June 20, 2012|By Jim Peltz

OAKLAND — When relief pitcher Ronald Belisario returned to the Dodgers on May 4, the team did not know what to expect.

After all, the hard-throwing Venezuelan had not pitched for the Dodgers since Oct. 1, 2010, because of various personal problems, including a 25-game suspension at the start of this season.

But since Belisario rejoined the club, "It's been a nice surprise," Manager Don Mattingly said.

Entering Wednesday's play, Belisario was 3-0 with a 1.25 earned-run average. He had given up three runs in 21 appearances covering 212/3 innings while holding batters to a .129 average and striking out 15.

The 29-year-old Belisario also had retired 17 of the 21 first batters he had faced.

"It feels good that I came back here and do a good job," Belisario said.

He acknowledged that, given his past, the Dodgers could have had doubts about how effective he would be again, but that "I'm working hard to try to help the team."

Belisario missed last season because he was denied entry into the United States after testing positive for cocaine, and he had to serve the suspension at the start of this season in accordance with baseball's drug policy.

"He's been really good and he's been a good citizen," Mattingly said. "He's been here on time, we haven't had any issues with anything with Beli."

Mattingly said Belisario's pitching has been especially important in light of injuries to relievers Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth.

When Belisario returned in May, "We looked at him as maybe [being useful] in the sixth [inning] or early" in a game, but "he's worked his way to the end of the game" in the seventh and eighth innings "and he's been solid," Mattingly said.

Belisario kept pitching in Venezuela during his absence from the big leagues and said "it didn't hurt me" to be away from the spotlight, Belisario said. His performance so far this year is reminiscent of his standout 2009 season, when he had a 2.04 ERA in 69 games.

"I was pitching when I was back home and I figured I didn't lose anything," he said. "I feel like I got better, more consistent."

Ethier day and night

Andre Ethier has been slumping at the plate lately, and that's especially true before nightfall.

Though Ethier was batting .339 in night games entering Wednesday's play, he was batting .169 in day games.

"Luckily we don't play that many day games," Ethier quipped.

Did the Phoenix native have any idea why he has struggled when the sun is shining?

"No, not at all," he said.

Short hops

Second baseman Mark Ellis, who spent most of his career in Oakland before signing with the Dodgers this year, was saluted by the Athletics before Wednesday's game and drew a standing ovation from the crowd.... After their series finale with Oakland on Thursday, the Dodgers open a three-game series with the Angels on Friday in Anaheim.

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