It appears the season is over for right-hander Chad Billingsley, and probably with it, his career with the Dodgers.
It’s been a long, frustrating road back for Billingsley since he suffered his first elbow injury in the summer of 2012, and it’s now become longer and much more frustrating.
Billingsley said Saturday that regardless of whether he decides to have surgery for his latest elbow injury, a partially torn flexor tendon, his 2014 season is probably over.
“It’s very, very, very, very, very, very, very slim that I would pitch again" this year, Billingsley said. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance, but the risk would be . . . tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years' rehab would be a grind.”
This is the final season of a three-year, $35-million contract for Billingsley. The Dodgers hold a $14-million option for next season with a $3-million buyout. It’s difficult to imagine they would pick it up, since he's missed most of the last two seasons with a bad elbow and his future is so uncertain.
The thought that the 2003 first-round draft pick has pitched his last game as a Dodger crossed his mind long before his latest setback.
“Yeah, last year,” he said. “It’s the only thing I’ve known. I’m not there yet.”
Billingsley had yet to be examined again by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and will not make a decision on surgery until he does.
When he first tore his elbow ligament in 2012, Billingsley elected to buck the odds and try to rehab the injury. His comeback appeared promising when he made two April starts last season, but after the second one the elbow screamed out again and this time it meant Tommy John surgery.
Twice this season Billingsley thought he was closing in on his return from the surgery, but after one rehab outing on April 6 he shut it down when the felt something in the elbow. He rested, resumed training and tried another rehab start Sunday and complained he could not let it go.
Billingsley, 29, admitted he was struggling to handle this latest development.
“Not great. Not ready to accept that this season’s over with,” he said. “I want to talk to ElAttrache, get a little more information and decide from there.”
ElAttrache has been out of town but was expected back Saturday night.
Billingsley is a former All-Star, who is 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA in his eight years.