Chad Billingsley pitched a normal bullpen session on Monday which included seven curveballs, and he looks on track to make the April 2nd start for the Dodgers versus San Francisco. Like I said back in December, Chad Billingsley’s health will be a very important factor in the success of the 2013 Dodgers. Even though the Dodgers currently have a surplus of pitching (although it looks as though they might move Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang soon), a healthy and strong Billingsley is more potent in the rotation than any of the starters not named Kershaw or Greinke.
Even Zack Greinke had a rusty showing on Monday evening as the Dodgers took on Kansas City. The right-hander made 64 pitches over three innings while allowing 5 runs on 6 hits. He struck out 2 and walked three batters. The Dodgers are still prepared to start him on April 5th. Greinke has not pitched much at all this Spring, and that is why Chad Billingsley’s seemingly triumphant comeback after suffering a partially torn elbow is one of the biggest accomplishments for the Dodgers out of Spring Training. After we heard the news last season that Bills tore his elbow, I think most every Dodger fan felt their heart sink a little. Yet here we are with a week to go until Opening Day, and Bills is set to start game number two.
Interestingly enough, Chad’s elbow wasn’t even the only health concern for him this Spring. A sore groin and a bruised right index finger plagued Chad during camp.
After his Monday bullpen session Billingsley said, “I’m good. Everything felt fine.”
Don Mattingly is planning to start Billingsley on April 2nd over Hyun-Jin Ryu only if Billingsley can throw all of his pitches including his curveball. He is scheduled to pitch in one of the Dodgers split-squad games either in Anaheim or in Rancho Cucamonga. But the concern is that if he does pitch in one of those exhibition games, the Dodgers would not be able to back-date a disabled list stint if necessary. The game at The Epicenter has a paid attendance and is considered a Major League game. He wouldn’t be able begin a 15-day DL trip until March 29th. Mattingly has already said that Ryu will start the first Freeway Series game in Anaheim, which by the way will pit the Korean lefty against the former Dodger Joe Blanton. Josh Beckett will start Friday at Dodger Stadium, and Greinke will return to face his former team in Anaheim on Saturday. An alternative plan would be to have Chad pitch a simulated game on Thursday.
A Dodger since June 15, 2006, Chad Billingsley is one of the longest-tenured Dodgers at the moment. He is one of the core players we have grown to love watching play. He has overcome one of the worst scenarios a pitcher may face in his career, and so far he has been lucky enough to avoid Tommy John Surgery.
His elbow seems fine, but his fingernail leaves us hanging.