Today was a big day for Chad Billingsley, as he made his first appearance since he was shut down last August with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Billingsley was roughed up by the Cubs in the first inning, allowing two doubles, a home run and a single to the four batters he faced, resulting in two runs crossing the plate. However, he settled down from there, giving up just one more hit over his two innings of work while striking out one and walking none.
Billingsley made it through the outing unscathed and told Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. that the shaky first inning was likely because he was too amped up for his first game action in six months.
“It’s good to be out there. In the first inning I had a lot of adrenalin. It seemed like forever since I last pitched in a game,” Billingsley said. “Today I had a little bit more adrenalin than usual for spring training. Just coming back it felt great to be out there competing in a game situation.”
For now, Billingsley is hopeful that a pair of platelet-rich plasma injections will be enough for his elbow to hold up to the rigors of the season. If he has any setbacks, he will likely face Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers at least have some rotation depth with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang if that comes to pass, though both pitchers are also potential trade chips.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.