Broward News

Dodgers/Marlins Pitcher a Major-League Moocher?

Ronald Belisario was just 16 years old when he was signed to the Florida Marlins in 1999. The right-handed pitcher from Venezuela worked his way through baseball's farm teams, missing the 2005 and 2006 seasons due to surgery, then landing in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system. This year, the now-26-year-old was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers and promoted up to the bigs. He has been making a name for himself as a reliever ever since April 7 of this year, when he pitched a scoreless inning in his major-league debut.

But all is not rosy in his world. On Saturday, Belisario was arrested in California on suspicion of driving under the influence, which earned him a talking-to from legendary manager Joe Torre. And here in Broward County, Belisario's ex-girlfriend, Luz Herrera, is going after him in court for $15,000 she claims he owes.

According to Herrera, she met Belisario at a neighbor's house party when he played for the Marlins. She says they danced all night. "He kept saying, 'You are my girlfriend.' He would not let me leave. I had to go to church on Sunday, so finally at 4:30 in the morning, I said, 'OK, you are my boyfriend.' At first, it was cute."

Then, Herrera says, he became a major-league moocher. She says that Belisario's agent controlled his money -- so she was left to pay for rent, cell phone bills, and expenses. She has compiled a folder of invoices; documentation shows that she wired him money through Western Union on multiple occasions. "I had no life; my life was this guy," she says. She says that she nurtured Belisario when he was recovering from elbow surgery and that he had a sense of entitlement. She claims he was supposed to attend baseball practice even while disabled but would skip it saying, "I'm not a rookie."

"They kicked him out of the Marlins because he wouldn't go to practice," she says.

Herrera says she dumped Belisario in September 2007, during his stint with the Pirates, when he jetted off to Venezuela to see his ex and infant daughter without notifying her. Herrera initially filed suit in small claims court for $5,000 but recently did a fuller accounting, remembering that she paid for plane tickets, that her car was repossessed because he failed to pay for the lease on it, that Belisario also borrowed money from her mother, and that he borrowed her nephew's PlayStation and never gave it back. She is now seeking $15,000; a judge has given her leave to file an amended complaint and move the matter to circuit civil jurisdiction.

Text messages sent to Herrera from Belisario's agent, Rafael Godoy, indicate that Belisario offered to settle for $4,000 but no more. Reached via email, Godoy promised to call the Juice with comment but so far has not.

Herrera says that her cousins are baseball scouts in the Dominican Republic and that she now works for her family's limousine service, which does business with sports teams. Thus, she says, she meets a lot of athletes -- but prefers to keep her distance. "I went out with this guy, and he told me he was a manager for Burger King. I was like, 'Great!' Two days later, he says, 'I'm sorry I lied to you; I really play for the Dolphins.' I thought, 'Oh God, shoot me now!' "

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Deirdra Funcheon