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."
Mattingly not shocked by Kemp's stellar April
DENVER -- A pretty good April for Matt Kemp:
A .417 batting average, second-highest in Lose Angeles Dodgers history for April; 12 home runs, most in Dodgers history and fifth-highest in MLB history for April; an .893 slugging percentage, highest in Dodgers history for April; 75 total bases, most in Dodgers history for April.
He's already won two National League Player of the Week awards and the NL Player of the Month award should go his way later this week.
Manager Don Mattingly said nothing Kemp does surprises him and he rejected a suggestion by a local reporter that Kemp is flying under the radar.
"You can't say what's going on is crazy, because he went into the last week of the season last year with a chance to win the Triple Crown," Mattingly said of Kemp. "This is not new stuff. He's not anonymous. In L.A., they know him pretty well. The more he does this, the more he'll be seen everywhere and he's going to keep going.
"Matt strikes out just enough that, like [Mark] McGwire, they're dangerous, but if you make the pitch just right, you can get him. But if you miss, that's the problem."
Mattingly agreed with Kemp's analysis that his hitting style is much like his childhood hero, Frank Thomas.
"An opposite-field power guy, that's what Matt does," Mattingly said. "It's kind of ridiculous power. Other guys don't go out there and Matt's land 10 rows back."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.