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Saturday, February 20, 2010
Blake shaves signature beard

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Casey Blake walked into the Dodgers' spring-training clubhouse for the first time on Saturday morning, there were more than a few double takes. Seems when the veteran third baseman departed from his snowy home back in Iowa, he left something behind.

His beard.

"I was so frustrated with our last duck hunt we had ... that I just went home and shaved it,'' Blake said. "We'll see how long it goes.''

Blake had sported a full beard and mustache -- he is now clean-shaven -- from the time the Dodgers acquired him from the Cleveland Indians at the 2008 trading deadline. He said he initially grew the full beard in the middle of the 2007 season, which ended with the Indians losing to Boston in the American League Championship Series.

That means the bearded version of Blake has never failed to reach the second round of the playoffs. On the other hand, though, the bearded version of Blake -- or any other version, for that matter -- has never played in the World Series.

"People say I look younger,'' said Blake, who clearly isn't the superstitious type.

Visa issues for Bellisario

Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario will be late to spring training for the second season in a row because of visa problems in his native Venezuela, a fact that didn't sit well with manager Joe Torre.

"Obviously, [the visa process] probably should have started earlier, where it would have been settled [by now],'' Torre said. "You want everyone to be here and be out on the field at the same time. But there are always going to be some issues.''

Belisario was so late to camp last year that he was sent to minor-league camp days after his arrival. But when he was borrowed for a couple of Cactus League games later in the spring, he was so impressive that he wound up making the opening-day roster and, except for a month-long stint on the disabled list with a strained right elbow, stayed in the big leagues all season. He finished his rookie season with a 2.04 earned-run average in 69 relief appearances.

Rain might delay first workout

The Dodgers' first workout of the spring for pitchers and catchers, set for Sunday, was in jeopardy by late Saturday afternoon. A light rain that had pelted the complex for most of the day as players took their physical exams indoors became a torrential downpour around 4:30, and there was more rain in the forecast for Sunday and Monday.

The Dodgers have a large indoor batting cage that also has pitching mounds and can be used for pitchers' throwing sessions, so the workouts could be moved there.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com