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.
Per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Jake Arrieta‘s agent Scott Boras says they’ll discuss a potential contract extension with the Cubs when they meet in January to hammer out arbitration figures.
Arrieta, 30, is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after earning $10.7 million in 2016. The right-hander followed up his Cy Young Award-winning 2015 campaign by going 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA and a 190/76 K/BB ratio in 197 1/3 innings during the regular season. Arrieta pitched well in the postseason, helping the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908.
While Boras clients tend to go to free agency, it’s not always the case. Stephen Strasburg inked a seven-year, $175 million extension with the Nationals earlier this year.
Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports, citing a source as well as Nikkan Sports, that reliever Koji Uehara is close to signing a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Cubs.
Uehara, 41, finished the 2016 season with a 3.45 ERA and a 63/11 K/BB ratio over 47 innings. He missed some time in the second half with a strained right pectoral muscle. When Uehara returned from the disabled list on September 7, he tossed 11 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts and two walks through the end of the regular season. So there’s at least some evidence, albeit in a very small sample size, that Uehara has stuff left in the tank.
The Cubs recently acquired closer Wade Davis from the Royals. Uehara would join Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Jr., Justin Grimm, and Mike Montgomery in what is once again a very deep bullpen.