Chad Billingsley was hoping to make it back from Tommy John surgery this season, but now he’ll have to wait until 2015 for the opportunity to throw another pitch in the major leagues.
Billinsgley was diagnosed with a partial tear of his flexor tendon last week after complaining of elbow soreness during his minor league rehab assignment. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, he has opted to undergo surgery to fix the tear. It will end his season, as the expectation is that he won’t throw for three months and won’t be game-ready for six months. He could be ready for the start of 2015 if all goes well.
Billingsley was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 and owns a 3.65 ERA over 190 starts and 29 relief appearances in the majors, but he could find himself on the free agent market this winter. Given his recent health issues, the Dodgers will likely decline his $14 million option for next season and pay him a $3 million buyout.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.