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Ronald Belisario’s absence becoming an issue

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right-hander Ronald Belisario, signed to a one-year, $3 million contract in the offseason, is still a no-show because of visa issues in Venezuela.

“We’re still on watch,’’ manager Robin Ventura said, adding “it’s getting closer” to being an issue as far as being ready for the season.

Belisario’s power arm is being counted on as a key piece in the bullpen.

‘‘Hopefully, he’s ready,’’ Ventura said, ‘‘and has enough strength that you wouldn’t notice it. But every day he’s not here, it’s a day further.’’

Belisario, 31, had a 3.97 ERA in 77 appearances (second in the National League) for the Dodgers last season. His ERA was 3.29 over four seasons with the team.

Time is now for Beckham

Gordon Beckham’s 2013 season was hindered by injuries — his 103 games were the fewest he played since his rookie year in 2009 — but he batted .267, more than 30 points higher than his previous two seasons, leaving him to wonder what might have been over a full season. Ventura would like the “what could be” discussions about the second baseman to end this year.

“You get to a point where you want to stop hearing about that,’’ Ventura said. “You just want to have people talk about you as a player instead of, ‘Well, you’re going to make it back from what happened last year.’ There’s nothing he can do about his hand [hamate bone surgery last season]. It’s unfortunate. But I know he wants people to be talking about how good a player he is, not the potential or making up for an injury. It’ll be nice when it gets to that point for him.’’

Keppinger recovering

Jeff Keppinger had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder last September, and he’s still a ways from 100 percent. Keppinger is taking part in infield drills but is throwing lobs from third base to first.

“I don’t know if it’s battling through scar tissue or inflammation that’s still in there,’’ Keppinger said of the soreness.

Keppinger didn’t start throwing until January. He expects to be ready for Opening Day. If not, the Sox aren’t desperate with Conor Gillaspie and prospect Matt Davidson there, not to mention Marcus Semien.

“I was hoping to be normal by now,’’ said Keppinger, who’s in the second year of a three-year, $12 million contract. “I just have to get over that hump where I can release the ball at 100 percent. I still get some pinching back there when I try to go full with throwing.’’

Thomas to work for FS1

Frank Thomas will work this season as a studio analyst for Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles. The network has not announced the new national role for Thomas, who also will continue in his capacity as an analyst for Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.



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