Dodgers' Pitching Woes Worsen as Billingsley Is Lost for the Year

Suddenly, the once abundant Dodger pitching depth is surprisingly thin

By Tony Castro
|  Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013  |  Updated 4:11 PM PDT
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Dodgers Lose Chad Billingsley to Tommy John Surgery

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Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley learned Tuesday, April 23, 2013, that he will have to undergo Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his injured elbow and will be lost for the rest of the 2013 season. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

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For the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley, say good-bye to Tiger Woods and hello to Tommy John.

The Dodgers right-hander is lost for the rest of the season as the team learned Tuesday that Billingsley will have to undergo Tommy John surgery on his injured right arm -- an operation he had hoped to avoid with the platelet-rich plasma injections that golf champion Woods popularized in treating a knee problem several years ago.

Billingsley, 28, will undergo the surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles. He had been a late scratch in Sunday's game with recurring elbow pain after a bullpen session on April 29.

Billingsley pitched 149 2/3 innings in 25 starts last season -- posting a 3.55 ERA with 128 strikeouts and 45 walks -- before suffering a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Instead of surgery, he chose to undergo a strong rehab program and a treatment of platelet-rich plasma injections during the offseason.

In Billingsley’s case, baseball people had been watching, seeing if his rehab and platelet-rich plasma injection treatment was a real alternative to surgery – or if it had only delayed Tommy John surgery if the ligament didn’t hold up.

Now they know that, for Billingsley, at least, it didn't work.

Billingsley had begun the season on the disabled list, although it had nothing to do with the elbow.

It was a bruised right index finger suffered during a bunting drill that landed him on the disabled list to start the year.

Although he had unimpressive rehab starts in the minors, Billingsley was a pleasant surprise in his first Major League start since undergoing the treatments, beating the Padres in San Diego, 4-3, April 10, going six strong innings with consistent fastball velocity in the low 90s. He threw 94 pitches, 54 for strikes.

Billingsley's second start of the season, his last, was April 15, Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium, when legendary announcer Vin Scully even alluded to the delicate nature of Billingsley's elbow by comparing it to the Sword of Damocles hanging forebodingly over him and the Dodgers.

Words of premonition from the mouth of Vin.

Billingsley gave way to the bullpen in the seventh inning, trailing in a game in which he fanned three, walked two and gave up three runs and seven hits. He threw 88 pitches, 51 of them for strikes.

The loss of Billingsley suddenly leaves the Dodgers' pitching rotation in an unexpected situation. Just 12 days ago, they had such an abundance of starting pitching that they traded away Aaron Harang because they had no place for him.

Now Zack Greinke, recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in The Brawl April 11, is on the disabled list until around the All-Star mark, and Chris Capuano is also on the DL with a calf sprain initially injured during that bench-clearing melee in San Diego.

The team announced Tuesday that Billingsley's spot in the rotation will be taken over by Stephen Fife who was just recently brought up from the minors and started Sunday's game in Baltimore.

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