Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Chad Billingsley (Page 2 of 7)

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
  • 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.

Billingsley, Beckett look to move past rehab hiccups

By Jon Weisman

Chad Billingsley provided something of a scare when he felt a sensation in his surgically repaired right elbow during his first rehab assignment Sunday, according to media reports, but Dr. Neil ElAttrache has examined Billingsley and said there is no issue.

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April 5 pregame: Dodgers seek a softer landing today


Giants at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, RF
Justin Turner, 2B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Paul Maholm, P

Click here for Jon SooHoo’s photo gallery from the home opener.

By Jon Weisman

Dodger pitchers on rehab assignments are taking several innings at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this weekend.

Josh Beckett allowed three first-inning runs, then pitched three shutout innings on Friday. Brian Wilson is expected to throw an inning tonight, and Chad Billingsley plans to take a big step with his first rehab outing Sunday.

“I feel good, I’m progressing well and hopefully it stays that way,” Billingsley told Ken Gurnick of on Friday. “Getting close. Right now I’m progressing with each start. I’m using this as a Spring Training, fine-tuning mechanics and working on my pitches. When I feel ready and they feel I’m ready, I’ll be back. Guys have this surgery all the time. Nothing new.”

In his outing, Beckett landed funny on his ankle while fielding a bunt in his last inning of work, and manager Don Mattingly said it was a little sore today but not major. The Dodgers have yet to set an activation date for the righthander.

As for today’s lineup, it will feature an all-righty outfield against San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner, with Andre Ethier in reserve for the first time this season and Carl Crawford for the first time in the U.S. Scott Van Slyke will get his first start since the season-opener in Australia, where he doubled and homered.

“This guy’s tough on lefties,” Mattingly said, conceding that Bumgarner, who had a 2.77 ERA last year, is tough on everyone. (Opposing lefties OPSed .487 against him in 2013, opposing righties .602.) “Scotty hasn’t played in a while. We’ve got to keep him in the mix.”

Mattingly said he talked to Ethier and Crawford but that he doesn’t expect to have to explain every day to whoever’s sitting why they’re sitting. He remains unflustered by the juggling of the outfield.

“We’re gonna get on a stretch when there’s no off days,” Mattingly said. “Someone’ll be nicked up; someone’ll need a breather. … I don’t think it’s gonna be complicated.”

Mattingly wrapped up his pregame chat by confirming that there was no issue with Yasiel Puig’s arrival time today.


In case you missed it: We’re gettin’ close, folks

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By Jon Weisman

Like the saying goes, “It’s Opening Day somewhere …”

  • Dylan Hernandez of the Times explores why the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are in Australia in the first place, talking to Paul Archey, MLB’s vice president of international business operations.

    “We’re not going to know the benefits of this game on Sunday night,” Archey said. “It’s long term. It can be generational.”

    MLB was paid by a promoter to open its season in Sydney, but Archey said that wasn’t the league’s motive for coming. “This is not about money,” he said. “This is about the future. It’s about developing the market for bigger business and it’s about developing the market for more players.”

    MLB has opened regular seasons in Mexico, Japan and Puerto Rico. What makes Australia different is that baseball doesn’t have a large fan base.

    The Dodgers were also involved in MLB’s last venture into a nontraditional market. That was in 2008, when the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres played a two-game exhibition series in China.

    Archey views that trip as a success. MLB now has 11 television partners in China, where it funds three youth academies and a 60-school intercollegiate league.

    “None of this existed prior to that game,” Archey said.

  • You’ve read all about the players fighting jet lag. Now, here’s a guide for us game-watchers on how to handle the sleep challenges for the 1 a.m. season opener, from Mark Newman of  Again, I see no mention of how to handle my son’s 9:30 a.m. birthday party after the game.
  • Brian Wilson gets cricket, writes Ben Horne of the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • A.J. Ellis shared a day in the life from the Australia trip with Michael Chammas of the same paper. I’m ignorant, so I had to Google “a long black with milk.”
  • Did you know the Diamondbacks have won seven straight Opening Day games? I didn’t until I read this stats piece from Mark Simon at The Dodgers have won three in a row.
  • Also of note: Clayton Kershaw has a 2.31 ERA in his past seven starts against Arizona — and one win to his credit.
  • Team Australia, which led the Dodgers 2-0 late before losing, shut out Arizona, 5-0.
  • $36 hot dog, anyone?
  • Chad Billingsley has passed another milestone in his rehab, facing a real-life batter (in this case, Matt Kemp) in a 15-pitch session, reports Jesse Sanchez of Sanchez adds that Billingsley is on track for his first outing in a minor-league game April 6.
  • Kemp then doubled and homered in a Triple-A game against the White Sox.
  • Here’s another piece picking the Dodgers to win the National League West and maybe more, from Marc Normandin of Sports on Earth.

March 7 pregame: Please, Hammer, don’t hurt ’em

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Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimBy Jon Weisman

There was a pitch in Thursday’s 4-4 Dodger tie with the Angels that was heading scarily toward the same spot on Hanley Ramirez’s body that turned the 2013 National League Championship Series on its rib.

The good news is that the pitch hit Ramirez’s triceps and that, as predicted by Ken Gurnick of, he is playing today.

The bad news is that ballplayers and dreams are still too fragile.

In other news …

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March 2 pregame: Who plays center in Kemp’s absence?

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Milwaukee Brewers

Padres vs. Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Yasiel Puig, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Joc Pederson, LF
Tim Federowicz, C
Alex Guerrero, 2B
Justin Turner, DH
(Josh Beckett, P)

By Jon Weisman

One of the intriguing questions for the Dodgers this spring, with Matt Kemp likely to start the season on the disabled list, is which of the remaining outfielders will play center field. Today, Yasiel Puig is the middleman, with Andre Ethier lining up in right. Come March 22, we’ll see.

Joc Pederson (pictured above), who would be a center-field candidate should the Dodgers have the unfortunate event of multiple outfield injuries, is in left field today.

Puig is also batting leadoff for the first time in 2014 Cactus League play. After Josh Beckett makes his spring debut on the mound, Paul Maholm, Stephen Fife, Sam Demel and Daniel Moskos are scheduled to follow.

In other pregame news:

  • Justin Sellers, who was designated for assignment February 22 after Erisbel Arruebarruena was signed, has been traded to Cleveland for cash considerations.
  • Nothing definitive has been announced on Zack Greinke, but the Dodgers’ cautious approach to his right calf issue is decreasing his chances of going to Australia, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. writes.
  • Ross Stripling is meeting with doctors this afternoon to go over the results of his MRI, the Dodgers said.
  • Chad Billingsley had what is being termed “normal” soreness after throwing breaking balls for the first time in nearly 11 months, reports Ken Gurnick of Billingsley plans to include cutters in his next bullpen session Tuesday.
  • Pedro Baez, Nick Buss, Jose Dominguez, Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Onelki Garcia, Yimi Garcia, Javy Guerra, Matt Magill, Jarrett Martin, Paco Rodriguez, Seth Rosin, Dee Gordon, Scott Van Skyke and Chris Withrow have signed their 2014 contracts, the Dodgers announced.
  • A GIF-filled review of Alex Guerrero’s initial efforts on defense is provided by Daniel Brim at Dodgers Digest.
  • Former Dodger reliever Guillermo Mota has reportedly retired, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via MLB Trade Rumors). In two separate stints with the Dodgers, Mota had a 2.79 ERA with a 1.126 WHIP and 7.3 K/9 in 294 innings.

Potential of fast return for Billingsley affected roster move

Los Angeles Dodgers workout at Camelback Ranch-Glendale
By Jon Weisman

When the Dodgers signed Erisbel Arruebarrena, they could have put Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list and still had him ready to be active in mid-May.

That they chose instead to designate Justin Sellers for assignment was widely interpreted as a positive sign about how close Billingsley is to returning to action.

From Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.:

… “We’re not prepared yet to put a timetable exceeding 60 days for Chad,” said general manager Ned Colletti.

Billingsley threw another bullpen session on Saturday, and said his arm still feels as good as it did coming in to camp. He is still limited to throwing no faster than 85 mph, but those restrictions will likely be relaxed soon and Billingsley will be allowed to throw curve balls as early as next week. …

… He plans to begin a minor league rehab assignment once the season opens in early April. Even if he needs five minor league starts, that earmarks a major league return for Billingsley in early May, which explains why he wasn’t placed on the 60-day DL. …

When he does return, Billingsley would theoretically enter a starting pitcher mix that includes veterans Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm, as well as the members of an emerging prospect class. (Maholm, by the way, threw a bullpen session without discomfort today, writes Ken Gurnick of

In the meantime, now entering DFA limbo is Sellers, last year’s surprise Opening Day shortstop. Over the next 10 days, he could be traded, claimed on waivers or clear waivers and eventually return to the Dodger organization.

Dodger video page in midseason form

By Jon Weisman

The Dodger video crew is ensconced at Camelback Ranch and already dishing out videos like Roger Owens with the peanuts. Here are three samples from the weekend, leading off with Chad Billingsley talking about the progress of his recovery from surgery, as well as Dan Haren, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Don Mattingly and more.

You can always check for more visual reports on the Dodgers.

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Dodgers sign Paul Maholm

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On the same day we received a nice progress report on Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers have added to their starting pitching depth with the signing of 31-year-old lefty Paul Maholm.

Maholm has pitched eight seasons plus the six starts he made in late 2005, with his best season coming in 2012, when he had a 3.67 ERA (111 ERA+) and 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 189 innings split between the Pirates and Cubs.

Last year with the Braves, Maholm had a 4.41 ERA (88 ERA+) and a 6.2 K/9. He had the biggest home-road differential in MLB last year: 2.37 ERA in Atlanta, 5.91 ERA elsewhere.

Where have you heard Maholm’s name recently? Remember when Carlos Gomez of Milwaukee and Atlanta’s Brian McCann got into it in late September? Maholm was on the mound when that started.

Scott Elbert, also recovering from surgery, was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Maholm on the active roster.

In case you missed it: Billingsley recovering so fast, he needs to slow down

Chad Billingsley meets reporters today. More from Jon SooHoo here.

Chad Billingsley meets reporters today. More from Jon SooHoo here.

By Jon Weisman

Chad Billingsley is progressing so well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery that he needs to make an effort to pace himself, reports Ken Gurnick of

… “My arm hasn’t felt this good in a few years. I feel like I have a whole new arm,” Billingsley said on reporting day for Spring Training. “They keep telling me, don’t throw 95 [mph] yet.”

“I think this is the dangerous time for him,” said manager Don Mattingly. “He’s going out there with the other guys and he can’t go to another level, trying to keep up with the Joneses.”

Billingsley said he’s thrown off a mound nine times, tossing only semi-fastballs in the low 80s (mph), and was up to 36 pitches on Friday. He speculated that he might add curveballs by the end of the month, then throw to live hitters in March. He hopes to move on to game situations by the end of March.

That would seem to put Billingsley ahead of the projected return of late May or June.

“Nobody knows when I can come back,” he said. “I just continue one week at a time.” …

More in Gurnick’s notebook, which also discusses the Dodgers’ fears about how they will do post-Australia. (Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. takes up this topic as well.)

And elsewhere, A.J. Ellis has cut Cracker Barrel breakfasts out of his diet as part of his attempt to get in better shape for the long haul, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Times.

In case you missed it: Chad Billingsley progressing

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By Jon Weisman

Above, video from day three (Wednesday) of the Dodgers’ community caravan. Below, well, see for yourself …

  • Chad Billingsley has thrown four bullpen sessions as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery, reports Ken Gurnick of Scott Elbert is expected to throw his first bullpen this week, writes Gurnick, who also discusses other pitchers appearing at the Dodgers’ “Young Guns” pitching minicamp at Camelback Ranch last week.
  • Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten spent seven minutes talking about the franchise with the guys on MLB Network’s Hot Stove Live.
  • Opening Day Countdown Down Under is an excitingly new and self-explanatory blog from Follow it as we count down the days to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks at Sydney.
  • Keith Law of discusses his list of the top 10 prospects in the Dodger organization. I neglected to mention the other day that Chris Anderson came in at No. 96 in Law’s top 100. Law said Anderson had a higher ceiling than Zack Lee “as a potential No. 2 starter if he can locate better and maintains his composure when something goes wrong behind him.”
  • When Hanley Ramirez increased his adjusted OPS from 105 in 2012 to 190 in 2013, it was the second-biggest increase in baseball of all-time, writes Andrew Grant of True Blue L.A.
  • Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score compares Yasiel Puig’s first season to others with similar career starts.

Notes: Miguel Rojas to contend for playing time at second base

By Jon Weisman

In addition to discussing Don Mattingly and Yasiel Puig, Ned Colletti touched upon several other aspects of the Dodgers in his conversation with reporters today.

  • Colletti’s priorities now for 2014 are to fine-tune the club, including another infielder off the bench that would give the club more versatility, and making sure the team is healthy. “I talk to our medical people every other day to see where we are at,” he said.
  • Miguel Rojas will get “a good look” during Spring Training for playing time at second base, thanks to his defensive wizardry. Rojas had a .303 on-base percentage and .307 slugging with Double-A Chattanooga last year, but Colletti calls him an “excellent defensive player.”
  • Alexander Guerrero is still leading the pack of contenders at second base, but Colletti said “we still have questions.” The Dodgers are taking a conservative approach with Guerrero and the hamstring issues he dealt with this winter.
  • Caution is also the byword with Matt Kemp, but the outfielder has had his walking boot off for the better part of four weeks now and is beginning to hit.
  • Josh Beckett should be ready to go for Spring Training, but Scott Elbert and Chad Billingsley remain targeted for midseason. Elbert could come sooner than Billingsley, thanks to being a reliever.
  • Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez have generated nothing but positive medical reports. No lingering issues.
  • Colletti is eager to see what Rule 5 draft-day acquisition Seth Rosin can bring. “Again, some of what we do is to continue to build the depth you need for a season.”
  • Preliminary conversations with the agent of Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka have taken place. Colletti described it as a “feeling-out process.”
  • Infielder-turned-reliever Pedro Baez, essentially following the path of Kenley Jansen, “still has some things he’s got to learn, but he’s a very interesting talent.”

Billingsley loses longshot bet, headed for surgery

Look, it didn’t take hindsight to question Chad Billingsley’s decision to put off the Tommy John surgery the Dodgers announced he will now get Wednesday. The guy made an optimistic gambit and lost. It’s unfortunate, but far be it from me to criticize someone betting on himself.

Though Stephen Fife takes his spot in the rotation for now and Chris Capuano will move back in once his calf is healed, I think there is a strong possibility we’ll see minor-leaguers Matt Magill or Zach Lee before the summer’s out.

Dodgers at Mets, 4:10 p.m.
Kershaw CLIV: Kershawnce Upon a Time in America

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P


Billingsley heads to disabled list, Fife recalled

No, really – just keep pouring it on.

This moming, the Dodgers placed Chad Billingsley on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow pain (retroactive to April 16). Stephen Fife – ninth on the Dodgers’ starting-pitcher depth chart when the season began three weeks ago – will start today’s game in Baltimore, trying to help the Dodgers end their six-game losing streak.

Fife has started three games for Triple-A Albuquerque this year, posting a 4.61 ERA in 13 2/3 innings with 20 hits allowed, three walks and 14 strikeouts. As a major-leaguer, Fife had a 2.70 ERA in five starts covering 26 2/3 innings in 2012, with 25 hits and 12 walks allowed against 20 strikeouts.

Fife’s longest outing this season so far is five innings, in the game he last pitched, Monday at Iowa. He allowed four runs and struck out eight, throwing 91 pitches.

We’re waiting for details on the timing of Billingsley’s trip to the DL. The right-hander, of course, eschewed surgery last year despite missing the final six weeks of the season with his elbow problem. He has a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings this year with 12 hits allowed, five walks and six strikeouts.

By the way, 21-year-old former first-round pick Zach Lee has a 1.17 ERA after four starts for Double-A Chatanooga this year, allowing 26 baserunners in 23 innings while striking out 21. (His teammate, Yasiel Puig, is on the seven-day minor-league disabled list with a sprained thumb.)

Update: “Chad Billingsley is not making his scheduled start today due to increased tightness and pain in his right elbow that he experienced during his last bullpen session,” the Dodgers said in a statement. “After consulting Dr. Neal ElAttrache, it was decided that he will return to Los Angeles on Tuesday for further medical evaluation. More information will be forthcoming after that examination.”

Dodgers at Orioles, 10:35 a.m.

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Skip Schumaker, DH
Justin Sellers, SS
(Stephen Fife, P)

Dodgers might retaliate, but not Monday

The Dodgers told Dylan Hernandez of the Times they don’t intend to retaliate against San Diego at Dodger Stadium on Monday for Carlos Quentin’s mound-charging fracture of Zack Greinke’s collarbone, but they didn’t exactly rule out some kind of revenge tactic later in the season.

Quentin agreed Sunday to begin serving his eight-game suspension. From the last section of Hernandez’s story:

… Furthermore, Mattingly expects the umpires to officially warn both teams before the start of the game.

Under such circumstances, any pitcher believed to be throwing at a hitter would be immediately ejected and subject to a suspension. With Greinke already down, the Dodgers can’t afford to have one of their starting pitchers suspended.

“We’ll probably talk about it,” Mattingly said.

Pitching for the Dodgers on Monday will be Chad Billingsley, who said he has no intention of throwing at anyone.

“I’m not going out there headhunting tomorrow,” Billingsley said. “I’m going out there to pitch and win a ballgame. That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what we’re here for, to win baseball games, make the playoffs, win the division. That’s why I go out there every fifth day.”

Billingsley was widely criticized for failing to protect the Dodgers hitters when Brett Myers of the Philadelphia Phillies was throwing at them in the 2008 National League Championship Series.

“That whole series is in the past,” Billingsley said. “That’s five years ago and you’re still bringing it up. This is nothing similar to the past. That was playoffs. This is regular season.”

Previously on Dodger Thoughts:

Stay classy, Los Angeles: The problem with the Dodgers’ tweet

Revenge on Jackie Robinson Night?

Furious Dodgers fight off Padres but lose Greinke

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