Last month Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley had to stop his minor-league rehab assignment for Tommy John surgery due to a setback, but he returned to the mound yesterday by throwing a simulated game.
Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that Billingsley will throw at least one more simulated game before trying another minor-league rehab stint, but he generally seemed pleased with how things are going:
My arm is feeling really good right now and I’m real happy the way it responded. It’s not throbbing or anything like that. It wasn’t really fatigued after throwing 30 pitches, so it’s definitely responding very well right now.
Billingsley hasn’t been healthy and effective since 2012, but before the elbow problems he was a very effective mid-rotation starter for the Dodgers with a 3.66 ERA in 1,163 innings from 2006-2012. Because of that success Billingsley understandably wants to return to the majors as a starter, saying: “If they had some other thing [in mind], why would I be doing multiple innings?”
However, right now there’s no clear spot for him in a Dodgers rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Josh Beckett.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.