GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Chad Billingsley has been working on his mechanics and saw positive results in his spring training debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Likely to be the No. 2 starter behind Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, Billingsley wants to smooth out his leg kick during his delivery. Monday was a step in the right direction as he pitched two scoreless innings in a 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox in an exhibition opener.
Billingsley gave up a single to Alexei Ramirez and walked none. Ramirez finished with two of Chicago’s six hits.
Billingsley said he felt good and mixed curveballs and changeups with his fastball. He’s looking for a stronger season than 2011, when he went 11-11 with a 4.21 ERA, his sixth with the Dodgers. The right-hander was an All-Star in 2009.
“I just wanted to be nice and smooth my first time out there, have a good rhythm and attack the zone,” he said. “I’m feeling better. It’s hard to tell from throwing one game, but today was a good day. I just want to build off of it.”
The game also marked the unofficial debut for first-time manager Robin Ventura. He started a White Sox lineup that could foreshadow what he’ll use on opening day, with Alejandro De Aza leading off, followed by A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn.
Ventura said he wasn’t nervous.
“It’s just different, walking out, handing out the lineup card, things like that, taking somebody out,” Ventura said. “It’s just odd when you walk out there and do it.”
Dodgers star Andre Ethier hit a double in his first at-bat of the spring against Philip Humber.
Humber allowed a run and a hit in two innings. He will likely be in the back of the White Sox rotation after he won a job as a starter a year ago. He went 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA in his first full major league season.
Humber got five groundouts and praised the defense of second baseman Gordon Beckham and Ramirez at shortstop.
“I was definitely happy with how it went,” Humber said. “I was around the zone. They were coming out hacking, a lot of quick outs, and obviously Gordon and Alexei didn’t lose anything in the offseason. It was good to see.”
Led by prospect Scott Van Slyke’s two-run homer, the Dodgers scored five times in the sixth off White Sox prospect Nestor Molina, acquired in the offseason trade that sent closer Sergio Santos to Toronto. Van Slyke is the son of former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke.
Van Slyke was the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year after he hit .348 to win the Double-A Southern League batting title. He also had 20 home runs and 92 RBIs.
“I think it’s a chance for Scotty to show he can play,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Sometimes, a guy may be able to hit in Double-A, but that doesn’t mean he can hit in the big leagues. Some guys come here and can’t turn that corner. For him, it’s about that first experience of seeing pitching and being around camp.”
Molina, who might begin the season in Double-A, allowed five runs and seven hits in 1 1-3 innings.
“Some guys can struggle early, but still I liked his competitiveness and what he has when he goes on the mound,” Ventura said. “He has a presence on the mound. He has good stuff.”
NOTES: White Sox prospect Addison Reed struck out Matt Kemp in a 1-2-3 inning. … Dan Johnson, who could possibly make the Chicago roster as a reserve, hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Ryan Tucker. … SS Dee Gordon led off for the Dodgers. He needed stitches in his lip Saturday after he took a grounder off the face during batting practice.