Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers have had a case of bad luck this season with respect to injury. Josh Beckett, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brian Wilson all have had stints on the disabled list in just over six weeks of season.
Also on the DL is Chad Billingsley, who unlike the aforementioned group, has yet to pitch in the 2014 season. Billingsley spent spring training attempting to work his way back from Tommy John surgery that ended his 2013 campaign after just two starts.
With a win on Tuesday, the Dodgers have taken the first two games of a three-game set with the Miami Marlins. Heading into the series, the Dodgers figured to face Marlins’ ace and reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Jose Fernandez. However, Fernandez underwent an MRI on Monday that revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament and he now may require the season-ending surgery.
No stranger to arm troubles, Billingsley discussed the epidemic that has taken MLB by storm this season, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
What we do is not natural,” Billingsley said. “No one knows the answer. Guys’ arms go out. What’s Jose, 22? I was 28. You get it at a young age, in old age. Every guy’s mechanics are different in such a way, it’d be so hard to pinpoint one, two, three things. You see guys where you’re like, ‘How does he do it without hurting his shoulder or elbow?’ and they do it for years. There are guys who look like they have great mechanics and they can’t stay healthy. It’s just an unnatural motion.”
Some pitchers have managed to have successful careers post-Tommy John surgery such as, John, who pioneered the ligament-replacement procedure with late surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe. Though he’s struggled this season, Brian Wilson appears to have recovered well from two surgeries to repair the ligament in his right elbow.
During spring training, there was the thought Billingsley could contend for the final spot in the starting rotation, but it never truly manifested. A potential return in May was then discussed, but a bout with tendinitis and later an injection platelet-rich plasma into the troublesome elbow would further set the right-hander back.
With no significant progress being made, Billingsley was then moved to the 60-day DL when the Dodgers selected Miguel Olivo’s contract on April 30. The 29-year-old threw a second bullpen session Tuesday since resuming his throwing program and if he’s able to avoid another setback, a rehab assignment would likely follow in the coming weeks.
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