|Hopefully this image won't happen again|
While the Dodgers have certainly made plenty of noise with their offseason spending spree, and more recently by announcing the launch of their own network, the injury bug remains a big question. In addition to the health of Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, Chad Billingsley's tender elbow is an issue.
An issue that, according to the man himself, isn't one anymore.
In what should be considered good news (we hope), Billingsley recently was quoted as saying that he feels "absolutely great," as he was about to throw off the mound for the eighth time in the offseason on Friday night without any setbacks.
Considering that a partially torn elbow ligament usually requires the dreaded Tommy John surgery, this is great news... and equally scary as well.
For those of you who closely follow the Dodgers (and if you're not, what are you waiting for?), you should know that Bills hasn't exactly been honest about his health in the past. Last season, he went through a tough stretch in the summer before admitting to Don Mattingly that his elbow wasn't right. Some rest and relaxation did the trick, as he ran off six straight wins.
Of course, that was right before he was KO'd in August for good because of his creaky elbow. So the optimism for him going into the offseason wasn't exactly sky-high.
Rather than going under the knife, Bills chose to rest and receive patelet-rich plasma injections (don't ask me what that means because it's way too high-tech for me). It's encouraging that it seems to have been working, as he's been clocked as high as 94 mph back in October throwing simulated games.
The Dodgers already have plenty of starting pitching options. Clayton Kershaw is the ace, with Zack Greinke right behind. Then there's Josh Beckett and Hyun-jin Ryu, who are clearly established in the middle of the rotation. After that it's Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, and Chris Capuano. There's been no movement on any of them yet, but it's hard to imagine all three staying with the Dodgers when the season starts.
The health of Billingsley will no doubt play a key role in the fate of the bottom three. Lilly is coming off of shoulder surgery, as his 2012 was practically non-existent, so who knows how ready he'll even be. Capuano has already undergone two TJ surgeries in the past, which means his left arm is always under some amount of pressure. Harang has shown the ability to start or go in long relief.
Pitchers and catchers are less than 10 days away from reporting to Spring Training, and all eyes will be on Billingsley. How he performs early in camp will go a long way in shaping the future of the pitching staff.