Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Chad Billingsley (Page 1 of 7)

In case you missed it: Old glove, new Kershaw

Roberts glove 061616js414

By Jon Weisman

In this video clip, Vin Scully talks about how new Dodger outfielder Will Venable is using an actual old glove of Dave Roberts from 2005, seen above.

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Here are some more notes and news from the past week …

  • Cali Ann’s getting a sibling. Clayton and Ellen Kershaw have a second baby on the way, due in November. Andy McCullough of the Times has the news in this Father’s Day-themed interview with Kershaw, which talks at length about the softening effect parenthood has had on the Dodger ace.
  • Monday’s nationally televised series-opener (ESPN) against the Washington Nationals figures to match Stephen Strasburg (2.90 ERA) against Clayton Kershaw (1.58 ERA). I’m not into win-loss records, but even a cynic like me about them finds it a little glamorous that the two pitchers are a combined 20-1.  Reminder: Strasburg is four months and one day younger than Kershaw.
  • The Dodgers officially announced the signing of the following draft picks: shortstop Errol Robinson (sixth round), right-hander Andre Scrubb (eighth round), right-hander Dean Kremer (14th round), outfielder Darien Tubbs (16th round), third basemen Brock Carpenter (20th round), right-hander Jeff Paschke  (22nd round), second baseman Brandon Montgomery (26th round) and catcher Steve Berman (31st round).
  • Ross Stripling gave a progress report to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com regarding his current hiatus from game action.
  • Chad Billingsley said he hasn’t given up, but the former Dodger right-hander, who hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch in 11 months, told Bruce Hefflinger of the Defiance Crescent-News (his hometown newspaper) that it was “most likely” that his career was over.
  • Scott Radinsky, the one-time Dodger reliever who is the Angels’ bullpen coach, is thankfully recovering from April open-heart surgery after a big scare.
  • Former Dodger catcher Tim Federowicz was designated for assignment by the Cubs.

In case you missed it: Cancer scare for Tiffany Billingsley

Tiffany Billingsley (left) has been quietly going through chemotherapy to beat a rare but aggressive form of cancer called gestational choriocarcinoma. (MLB.com)

Tiffany Billingsley (left) has been quietly going through chemotherapy to beat a rare but aggressive form of cancer called gestational choriocarcinoma. (MLB.com)

Dodgers at Phillies, 10:05 a.m.
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andre Ethier, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Before the first of three midweek day games this month, followed by August 19 at Oakland and August 27 at Cincinnati, here is some quick news, led by a life-and-death story …

  • Tiffany Billingsley, the wife of former Dodger pitcher Chad Billingsley, revealed this week that she had a major cancer scare this year but is now cancer-free, as Todd Zolecki reports in a harrowing piece for MLB.com.
  • Jimmy Rollins has a .400 on-base percentage and .650 slugging percentage in his past 11 games, while Howie Kendrick is at .406/.600 in his past seven games.
  • Zack Greinke has pitched at least seven innings in six consecutive games. Other than Clayton Kershaw, the last Dodger to do that was Hiroki Kuroda in 2010. (Kershaw pitched at least seven innings in 17 straight games last year.)
  • If Greinke goes at least seven innings today without allowing more than two runs, that would be the longest streak of its kind by a Dodger since Tom Candiotti in 1995. The franchise record is 10 games by Don Sutton in 1976.

Chad Billingsley returns to Dodger Stadium tonight

An injured Chad Billingsley leaves the game on August 24, 2012. (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

An injured Chad Billingsley leaves the game on August 24, 2012. (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Chad Billingsley’s long and winding road has wound its way back to Dodger Stadium, where he will pitch tonight for the first time in more than two years — and for the first time ever as a member of the visiting team.

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Chad Billingsley’s legacy a dividing line for Dodger fans

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LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUTBy Jon Weisman

For some, Chad Billingsley never stopped being the pitcher who imploded in the 2008 National League Championship Series, failing to make it out of the third inning in either of his two starts and condemned for supposed spinelessness along the way.

For me, Billingsley — one of the five best pitchers the Dodger system has produced in the past 25 years — remains a pitcher to admire, even accounting for his struggles.

The two sides of Billingsley illustrate a rift between fans that is even more pointed than the Old School-New School debate that for so long has dominated baseball conversation.

Simply put: Should a player be defined by his failures or his successes?

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Chris Withrow’s rehab is for the faint of heart

Chris Withrow joined in the Dodgers' NL West title celebration September 24 (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chris Withrow joined in the Dodgers’ NL West title celebration September 24 (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

This got lost in the September shuffle, but here’s a story about the time Chris Withrow nearly passed out.

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Up and at ’em in autumn

For photos from Sunday, visit LA Photog Blog.

Giants at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Dan Haren, P

By Jon Weisman

Tuesday brings the first official day of fall, but this afternoon at Dodger Stadium felt like the real beginning. Shadows had crept all the way to the baselines by the time Don Mattingly’s pregame press session broke, the burning rays of last week’s heat wave a fully distant memory.

And with the Giants in town and the stakes never higher with six games remaining in the season, this entire week could be considered the eve of October.

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Greinke’s elbow could further test Dodger depth

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All Wet

The Dodgers might well have caught a break Tuesday from the Wrigley Field grounds crew, whose struggle to effectively put down a tarp during a 10-minute rainstorm left the field unplayable, causing the Giants’ game against the Cubs to end after 4 1/2 innings in a 2-0 loss. There is talk of a protest, but at least for now, San Francisco fell to 4 1/2 games behind Los Angeles in the National League West.

By Jon Weisman

Teams don’t win or lose, organizations do.

Maybe that’s just a matter of semantics, but the point is, every aspect of your organization, top to bottom, plays a role in the fortunes of the team. And sometimes, you need the bottom to carry the top. Or, depending on your point of view, the middle.

That’s what the Dodgers face right now, given the possibility that Zack Greinke will become the fifth Dodger starting pitcher sidelined for at least the short term, following Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Paul Maholm and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

And yes, I think it’s important to include Billingsley in these lists, because when the season began, he was considered likely to be in the rotation in the second half of 2014, certainly more likely than Beckett or Maholm.

Here’s the latest on Greinke from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

Greinke is only a “possibility” to make his scheduled start on Thursday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Tuesday night’s 8-6 win over the Padres.

Greinke has been dealing with a tender elbow for the past three weeks, bypassing regular bullpen sessions to throw on flat ground, which puts less of a strain on the arm.

Mattingly would not elaborate on Greinke’s condition or who might replace him, although the Dodgers have few options besides rookie Carlos Frias, who pitched four innings in relief of Dan Haren on Sunday. …

If Greinke misses a start, that would mean each of the Dodgers’ six primary starting pitchers this season has missed at least one turn in the rotation, although Haren’s was outwardly labeled a rest stop.

And so the Dodgers have needed to step up in other places. They’ve made trades to bring in Kevin Correia (who was rocked for three runs before retiring a batter Tuesday, then held San Diego to one run over his next 19 batters) and Roberto Hernandez. They called up Stephen Fife and Red Patterson early in the season and now perhaps will use Frias as a starter as well.

About the only thing that hasn’t happened yet is a sustained turn in the rotation from a minor-leaguer, in part because someone like 2011 first-round pick Zach Lee, who turns 23 next month, hasn’t come on the fast track. Not that he’s been slow. Lee had made midseason leaps to the next level in 2011 (high school to Single-A Great Lakes) and 2012 (High-A Rancho Cucamonga to Double-A Chattanooga) before spending full seasons at Chattanooga in 2013 and, up to now, Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014.

Lee has struggled somewhat predictably in his first Pacific Coast League season (a league Clayton Kershaw bypassed on his way up). It would be nice to see the Dodgers get a youthful infusion in their rotation, but the timing might not be right for Lee. Maybe it will be the 24-year-old Frias, who retired the final 12 batters he faced in long relief Sunday after allowing a solo home run.

Happiest of all would be if Greinke wakes up healthy this morning or the next. But if someone takes Greinke’s turn Thursday, that pitcher will be the Dodgers’ No. 11 or No. 12 starter this season. You’re not expecting someone like that to dominate; you’re hoping he keeps you in the game enough for your offense to step up, as it did Tuesday, behind Carl Crawford’s three singles, walk and home run and the pairs of doubles from both Matt Kemp and Justin Turner. One player acquired by trade, one player acquired through the draft, one player a savvy pickup by the front office from the discard pile. Because, like we said, you win or lose with your entire organization.

As Billingsley chooses surgery, Kershaw speaks about his comrade

In his first start of the 2012 season, Chad Billingsley allowed four baserunners in 8 1/3 shutout innings while striking out 11. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

In his first start of the 2012 season, Chad Billingsley allowed four baserunners in 8 1/3 shutout innings while striking out 11. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Matt Kemp, LF
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, 3B
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Chad Billingsley first described himself as “flustered” by the turn of events that has brought him face-to-face with a second year of surgery in a row, this time to repair a torn flexor tendon, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports here.

Normally you’d might expect “frustrated,” a word Billingsley in fact later used with reporters here, but “flustered” adds a level of agitation that speaks to his eagerness to get back in the game.

Billingsley will miss the remainder of the 2014 season as he recovers from his latest operation. By the time the 2015 campaign begins, the right-hander, who turns 30 next month, will have pitched 12 Major League innings in more than 80 weeks.

“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.”

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Another setback for Chad Billingsley

Chad Billingsley leaves the mound in his final appearance of 2012, on August 24 (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chad Billingsley leaves the mound in his final appearance of 2012, on August 24 (Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Chad Billingsley, aiming to recover from Tommy John surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament, now has a partial tear of his flexor tendon, per an examination Thursday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Billingsley and Dr. ElAttrache are considering treatment options, according to the Dodgers’ public relations department, and further information will be released in the coming days.

The right-hander, who turns 30 on July 29, ranks 11th in Los Angeles Dodger history in adjusted ERA among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings.

Zoo station

Dodgers at Reds, 4:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Chone Figgins, 3B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, LF
Andre Ethier, CF
Miguel Rojas, SS
Drew Butera, C
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Yasiel Puig went to the zoo today. Youngest Master Weisman almost went to the zoo, but ended up miniature golfing instead.

Summer is a kids’ paradise …

* * *

Injury updates:

  • Chad Billingsley was unable to pitch freely in his Tuesday bullpen session, and will meet with Dr. Neil ElAttrache on Thursday.
  • Carl Crawford has seen improvement doesn’t have “the explosiveness” he is used to having, according to Manny Randhawa of MLB.com. Crawford is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, but still doesn’t have a minor-league rehab assignment scheduled.
  • A.J. Ellis could be activated from the disabled list this week, without a rehab assignment, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, while Juan Uribe could go on a rehab journey in days as well. Uribe last played May 20.
  • Update: Hanley Ramirez has been scratched with right AC joint irritation. Miguel Rojas will start at shortstop tonight.

June 1 pregame: Notes, notes, everywhere

PIRATES VS DODGERS

Saturday’s Jon SooHoo photo highlights can be found at LA Photog Blog.

Pirates at Dodgers, 5:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Andre Ethier, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
Drew Butera, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

We’re going full notebook for today’s pregame report:

  • After their 12-2 victory Saturday over Pittsburgh, I had some fun looking up the Dodgers’ record when scoring at least 12 runs since moving to Los Angeles. They are now 182-4 in those games.
  • Hanley Ramirez, who homered twice in a game for the second time this season, had the first 4 4 4 5 line in Dodger history (since at least 1914) and 17th in MLB history. He’s the first to do it with a stolen base in National League history.
  • Jamey Wright had the Dodgers’ first three-inning save since Ramon Troncoso in April 2009, and the first save in a game decided by at least 10 runs since Matt Herges on September 10, 2000.
  • There has been one five-inning save in Dodger history, by Charlie Hough on August 14, 1970. In his shortest start of the decade, Don Sutton was knocked out of the game after retiring only one batter and being charged with five runs. Los Angeles rallied to take the lead with Fred Norman on the mound, setting him up for the win, and then Hough allowed four runs over five innings, facing 24 batters, to pick up the unusual S.

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April 30 pregame: Splash mountin’

Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers
Whatever the weather, someone’s getting wet. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers at Twins, 5:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, DH
Juan Uribe, 3B
Drew Butera, C
Carl Crawford, LF
(Zack Greinke, P)

By Jon Weisman

Two changes come to the active roster in time for today’s game against Minnesota. Lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez and catcher Miguel Olivo have come up from Albuquerque, while infielder Carlos Triunfel and catcher Tim Federowicz make the journey to Triple A.

Among players who have primarily been catchers in their careers, Olivo ranks 32nd all-time with 145 home runs. Ahead of him are eight former Dodgers: Mike Piazza (1), Gary Carter (6), Roy Campanella (10), Todd Hundley (13), Ernie Lombardi (17), Ramon Hernandez (23), Charles Johnson (24) and Mike Lieberthal (31).

Chad Billingsley, meanwhile, has been moved to the 60-day disabled list, which would still allow him to be activated in May. Billingsley, who made a rehab start April 6, received a platelet-rich plasma injection on Tuesday for elbow tendinitis last week.

The Dodgers can also add a 26th man to the roster for Thursday’s doubleheader, based on a Collective Bargaining Agreement rule that allows clubs a 26-man roster for day-night doubleheaders if scheduled at least 48 hours in advance.

More roster changes could be coming in the next few days, based on a) what happens with Clayton Kershaw’s rehab start with Double-A Chattanooga tonight and b) the potential need for a starting pitcher Sunday, so that Zack Greinke doesn’t have to come back on three days’ rest.

In other news and notes:

  • The Dodgers can expect to face a lefty in Minnesota after all. For their 26th man on Thursday, the Twins have called up Kris Johnson (not the former UCLA hoopster) to make his first Major League start.  Johnson pitched 10 1/3 innings in relief for the Pirates last year with a 6.10 ERA but 2.76 FIP. He has a 2.86 in 22 minor-league innings this year, with 20 strikeouts against 26 baserunners.
  • Carl Crawford makes his first start in the No. 9 slot of the batting order since September 20, 2003.
  • Adrian Gonzalez has been the top first baseman in the Majors in April, according to Jay Jaffe of SI.com. Dee Gordon was honorably mentioned at second base.
  • Greinke’s performance to date is analyzed by Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest.
  • Maury Wills is featured in the final posting from the great series of Union Oil 1961 Family Booklets, presented by Ernest Reyes at Blue Heaven.
  • From the Dodger press notes: “The Dodgers will fly more than 6,200 miles during this trip as they touch points to the extreme north, south, east and west of the continental United States.”

April 17 pregame: X-rays negative, but Hanley misses start

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Dodgers at Giants, 12:45 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Justin Turner, SS
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

Though X-rays were negative on Hanley Ramirez’s left hand, which was struck by a Ryan Vogelsong pitch Wednesday, the Dodger shortstop will miss his first start of the season in today’s afternoon affair (and road trip finale) against at San Francisco.

It’s not implausible that Ramirez would have been on the bench even if healthy, given that he had played every inning for the Dodgers in 2014 until leaving in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss.  Juan Uribe and Adrian Gonzalez, on the other hand, will make their 15th consecutive starts.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweeted that Ramirez expects to start Friday at home against Arizona.

The Dodgers had more decent news about Chad Billingsley, whose right elbow ligament remains sound despite tendinitis, and Clayton Kershaw, who completed a bullpen session Tuesday and has another one Thursday. Neither pitcher, however, has a timetable for a rehab start.

April 15 pregame: Buckle up

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Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Andre Ethier, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Josh Beckett, P

By Jon Weisman

After playing their first 13 games in 24 days, the Dodgers will play their next 13 games in 13 days. So get ready …

Late updates: Taking advantage of his remaining options, the Dodgers sent Paco Rodriguez to Albuquerque to make room for the return of Brian Wilson from the disabled list. Obviously, this won’t be the last the Dodgers see of Rodriguez, who had allowed six hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings this year while striking out five.

More forebodingly, Chad Billingsley is returning to Los Angeles for an MRI after cutting short a bullpen session today with discomfort in his right elbow. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has more on both stories if you click the links.

* * *

Some gems from the Dodger press notes:

  • The Dodgers’ 7-1 start on the road this season is their best since 1983, and a win tonight would make this their best road start since the 1977 team went 11-1.
  • The Dodgers lead MLB by scoring first in 10 games this season and winning nine of those (via Stats, LLC).
  • The Dodger bullpen has allowed only two of 20 inherited runners to score this season.
  • Adrian Gonzalez became the eighth Los Angeles Dodger to have at least 10 RBI in a three-game series. Frank Howard is tops with 12 from July 27-29, 1962 against the Giants.
  • Gonzalez has homered in four consecutive games, one off the team record held by Roy Campanella (1950), Shawn Green (2001) and Matt Kemp (2010).
  • Gonzalez has an extra-base hit in eight consecutive games, one off the team record held by Jack Fournier.
  • I looked up Fournier’s streak just now (August 20-26, 1925) and saw that it included doubleheaders on three consecutive days. From sunup on August 22 to sundown on August 24, the 35-year-old first baseman went 10 for 22 with two doubles, a triple, three homers and four walks.

* * *

Also in today’s mix …

  • The first Jackie Robinson Celebration Game was set for today at Holman Stadium at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, matching Florida State League teams Lakeland (Tigers) and Brevard County (Brewers). Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent was to address the crowd with history about Robinson.
  • Kenley Jansen threw a cutter that broke 100 mph, notes Daniel Brim at Dodgers Digest.
  • Ernest Reyes at Blue Heaven presents some anti-discrimination baseball memorabilia.
  • Duke Snider received the 1961 Union Oil Dodger Family Booklet treatment (also at Blue Heaven).
  • The Dodgers were shut out four times in nine games at San Francisco in 2012, but none in 2013.

April 9 pregame: Josh Beckett returns

Wilson 4-9-14

By Jon Weisman

Josh Beckett has officially come off the disabled list to pitch tonight’s game for the Dodgers against a player he was once in a trade with, Anibal Sanchez.

To make room for Beckett on the roster, Jose Dominguez was optioned to Albuquerque.

With Beckett’s return, the Dodger pitching staff crowds up some more, and Dominguez’s travels offer only a temporary respite.  Brian Wilson (left) marked his 10th day on the disabled list with a bullpen session of about 20 pitches off the Dodger Stadium mound today.

Beckett is not expected to have a long first outing, Don Mattingly said, adding that Paul Maholm would be available out of the bullpen tonight.

What else can I tell you?

Tigers at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Josh Beckett, P
  • “The sensation that Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley felt while pitching Sunday in a rehab start was scar tissue breaking in his surgically repaired elbow and not a major setback in his comeback from Tommy John surgery,” reports Earl Bloom for MLB.com.
  • Tuesday’s showdown between Kenley Jansen and Miguel Cabrera has been documented by Grant Brisbee of SB Nation as “the best at-bat in MLB so far” in 2014, while for Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, it was a reminder of “what makes baseball great.”
  • A.J. Ellis is celebrating his 33rd birthday today by beginning his rehab from Tuesday’s knee surgery.
  • Homerless streaks are in the news because of Kansas City’s early season drought. As Joe Posnanski notes for Hardball Talk, the 1963 and 1967 Dodgers had some of baseball’s biggest season-opening homer droughts.
  • Briefly a Dodger Seth Rosin was designated for assignment by Texas. Rosin pitched in three games for Texas, allowing no runs in three innings across his first two, then three runs in one inning on Monday.

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