CHICAGO -- Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario is back in the Major Leagues after a 25-game suspension for a positive cocaine test, ready to make amends and save his career.
"I feel pretty good about it, thank God," said Belisario, activated Thursday when the Dodgers designated for assignment Mike MacDougal. "I thank the owner for the opportunity."
Manager Don Mattingly admitted both parts of the roster move were difficult for management because of MacDougal's importance last year and the obvious baggage Belisario carries.
"None of us know what's going to happen," said Mattingly. "Who knows if it's the right one or the wrong one? We don't have a crystal ball. But it's a decision we came to."
Belisario missed the entire 2011 season, unable to get a work visa because of repeated drug problems. But he said he never thought his career was over.
"I was being positive, working hard," Belisario said. "A second chance -- I worked hard for [it], and now I have it. I learned a lot of things. Everybody makes mistakes. I learned how to work hard, keep my mind straight on baseball. It changed me a lot."
As a Minor Leaguer with Florida and Pittsburgh, Belisario missed the 2005 season after Tommy John surgery and '06 with an unspecified suspension, then was signed out of the Venezuelan Winter League in '09 as a free agent.
Belisario, now 29, became a workhorse that year, making 69 appearances with a 2.03 ERA. He threw a fastball in the mid-90s with a diving sinker and was used in the late innings. But a disastrous 2010 season followed that included a month-long drug rehab and a whopping three-run increase in his ERA.
Mattingly said Belisario will serve as a middle and long reliever.
The club hopes MacDougal will accept a Minor League assignment, as Mattingly put it, "to get straightened out." He dealt with a bruised finger in Spring Training and lost weight from the flu last month. At no point this year did he have the command he had last year.