DENVER -- It's countdown time for Ronald Belisario, who is eligible to be activated on Friday after serving a 25-game suspension for violating MLB's drug program.
Belisario's activation, however, is no sure thing. He's scheduled to pitch one inning for Triple-A Albuquerque Tuesday and Wednesday to show he can go back to back, but even if he's pitching-ready, the Dodgers must decide if they want to tamper with the bullpen chemistry for a player with the baggage of Belisario, who has been in and out of trouble all four seasons he's been a Dodger.
"I know there's been conversations about it," manager Don Mattingly said. "With Belly, it all goes back to the fact that his stuff has never been a question. There's never been a question he can pitch in the big leagues, and he's dirty [in a good way] at times."
Mattingly's non-answer is a reflection on the decision, because Belisario is out of options. The Dodgers can't send him to the Minor Leagues without first getting him through waivers, so he could be lost to another club.
But unless somebody gets hurt in the next two days, there doesn't appear to be a roster spot for Belisario. And even if he rejoins the team, his role will have changed from the setup man he was as an overpowering rookie.
"We need a multiple-innings guy," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "He's not walking into the seventh or eighth inning of '09. The other day, when he pitched two innings, the first inning was good and the second inning tailed off, and that concerned me. He likes to let it fly for one inning. When he's on, he can be dominant, but that's 20 pitches or less, and after that, his stuff changes."