As the Los Angeles Dodgers await the return of Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe, and perhaps Scott Elbert, they learned Monday there was one player that would not join them in 2014.
Chad Billingsley, who was attempting to recover from last season’s Tommy John surgery, suffered a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow and made the decision to have season-ending surgery. Billingsley had the option of attempting to rehab the injury, but another setback during that process likely would have required surgery.
The operation will essentially cost Billingsley a second consecutive season as he only made two starts in 2013. Billingsley’s teammate and friend, Clayton Kershaw, expressed remorse over the right-hander’s difficult situation, via DodgerInsidger.com’s Jon Weisman:
Bills is a good friend of mine, so I just feel bad for him,” said Clayton Kershaw, for six years a teammate of Billingsley. “I know how much he loves to complete and how much he wanted to pitch, and I can’t imagine going through that whole rehab process and finding out that news. You just try to put yourself in his shoes and be there for him the best you can, and realize it’s a pretty terrible situation.”
The two pitchers have been teammates on the Dodgers since the 2008 season, but may be on the verge of a change. The Dodgers hold a team option on Billingsley’s contract for next season and should they exercise it, they would owe the pitcher $14 million in salary.
Given Billingsley’s inability to get healthy, the more likely scenario is the Dodgers will buy him out for a more modest $3 million. While Billingsley’s career with the Dodgers may be over, Kershaw believes he can eventually make a return to the mound:
Bills works as hard as anybody,” Kershaw added. “If it’s just a matter of putting in the work, I don’t have any doubts that he’ll be back.”
The right-hander appeared in 219 games across eight seasons with the Dodgers, starting in 190 and posting a career mark of 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA. Billingsley’s best season with the team was in 2008 when he finished 16-10 to go with a 3.14 ERA.
Billingsley stated he was eyeing a return to the starting rotation, which may have been an added option for the Dodgers, who are relying on 33-year-old Dan Haren and 34-year-old Josh Beckett at the backend of the rotation.
With Billingsley no longer in the picture and given Paul Maholm’s struggles, the Dodgers may need to look to the trade or free agency market should either Beckett or Haren go down with an injury.
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