Reporting from Phoenix— A new season beckons with an old question: Can Chad Billingsley be a more consistent winner for the Dodgers?
The right-hander is coming off an 11-11 season with a 4.21 earned-run average, his third consecutive year of being on or near the .500 mark in wins and losses.
Billingsley, 27, particularly struggled on the road last year, with a record of 5-7 and a 5.34 ERA.
“Bills is obviously looking to — I won’t say rebound — but be better than what he was last year,” Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “He knows he’s better. We need him to produce.”
Billingsley has worked on his delivery so that his left leg is closer to his body during his windup, with his left knee coming more toward his chin.
“By doing this it will allow me to be a little more consistent with my delivery,” said Billingsley, who was scheduled to throw 60-plus pitches Thursday against the Kansas City Royals at Camelback Ranch.
“He’s working hard, his curveball has been excellent,” Honeycutt said. “It still comes down to commanding his fastball a little bit better.”
GUBER JOINS BIDDING GROUP
Peter Guber, co-owner of the Golden State Warriors and a veteran Hollywood entertainment executive, has joined the Dodgers bidding group led by Magic Johnson.
Guber, 70, would be a minority investor. Johnson is an investor in the Dayton (Ohio) Dragons, one of several minor league baseball franchises owned and operated by Guber’s Mandalay Sports. The Dragons have sold out 844 consecutive games, an ongoing record for a North American professional sports franchise.
Guber and Johnson also have been partners in the entertainment business. When Guber was chief executive at Sony Entertainment, he helped Johnson launch his chain of movie theaters.
Guber declined to comment. His decision to join the Johnson bid group was confirmed by two people familiar with the Dodgers sale process but not authorized to comment publicly.
The Johnson bid is one of four expected to be submitted to major league owners for approval next week, according to people familiar with the sale process.
PRICE OF PR
The Dodgers paid former executive vice president Charles Steinberg a salary of about $1 million per year, according to documents filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court — double what the team paid All-Star catcher Russell Martin in 2008.
Steinberg was hired in 2007 to oversee the Dodgers’ marketing and communications efforts. According to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Steinberg also drafted an email to former Dodgers president Jamie McCourt that outlined “Project Jamie,” a seven-page action plan that included this line: “Goal: Be Elected President of the United States.”
Steinberg was fired in 2009, one month before Jamie McCourt filed for divorce from Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
After pitching Wednesday night, Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to be in Los Angeles on Thursday night to be presented the 2011 Sportsman of the Year award at the L.A. Sports Awards.