Elbow injury ends Billingsley's year
LOS ANGELES (AP)
The 28-year-old left-hander, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 24, was 10-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 25 starts.
''I thought there was an outside chance that maybe I'd get back. It wasn't very good, but I was able to hold onto that,'' Billingsley said in Los Angeles' dugout during batting practice. ''Then two nights ago, late in the game, Dr. (Neal) ElAttrache told me: `We're going to shut you down.'
''There's some slight tearing going on in there, but they say it has a chance to heal and that the PRP injection should help it recover and get stronger,'' Billingsley said. ''I'm keeping my fingers crossed. This is all new to me. I've never had an elbow problem where the UCL is concerned.''
Billingsley received a second platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on Wednesday, which the Dodgers had hoped would help keep him in the rotation as they challenge for a postseason berth. Now, he finds himself at least two more weeks from picking up a ball again and could be facing Tommy John surgery if there are any more setbacks in his rehab.
''We're in a September pennant race right now, and when you have a chance to make the playoffs, you always want to be a part of it,'' Billingsley said. ''I was throwing well after the break, and you don't want something like this to happen when you're in a groove. Stretches like this where everything's going your way usually don't come along too often. It's an exciting time and a different environment, but now I have to sit and watch.''
Billingsley was 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his final seven outings after coming off the disabled list, missing only one start because of the All-Star break. In his last five starts prior to that stretch, he was 0-5 with a 6.21 ERA.
''When he came back from the DL, the biggest difference in him was the fastball command. He didn't walk hardly anybody,'' Mattingly added. ''He threw strikes with his fastball, got ahead in the counts all the time, challenged the strike zone and didn't really get himself into a bunch of bad situations.''
Billingsley had been feeling discomfort during his losing streak without being completely candid with Mattingly, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and the training staff. But eventually he decided to come clean.
''I think he was pretty honest about it,'' Mattingly said. ''Even when we ended up putting him on the DL and he missed a start, he still felt like he could pitch. So as long as he could go out there and keep competing, he felt like he was OK in dealing with stuff that a lot of people go through.''
Billingsley has averaged 162 strikeouts over the past six years. His best season was 2008, when he established career bests with a 16-10 record, a 3.14 ERA and 201 strikeouts. He pitched in his only All-Star game the following year.
The Dodgers also selected the contract of left-handed reliever Steven Rodriguez from Double-A Chattanooga.