Dodgers' Chad Billingsley on comeback: 'I'm preparing to start'

Dodgers' Chad Billingsley on comeback: 'I'm preparing to start'
Chad Billingsley, seen in 2012, threw a 30-pitch simulated game Thursday as part of his comeback from Tommy John surgery. (Patrick T. Fallon / For the Times)

This comeback stuff is neither easier nor fun, but it's where Chad Billingsley remains.

Billingsley hit reset and went out Thursday for his first simulated game since suffering a setback in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.


"My arm is feeling really good right now and I'm real happy the way it responded," Billingsley said. "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 said he would throw at least one more simulated game before thinking about trying another rehab start. His previous attempt at a rehab game April 6 ended when he walked off the mound in the second inning at Class A Rancho Cucamonga when he felt something in his elbow.

He said it was scar tissue breaking up, with a touch of tendinitis. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection afterward, did not throw for almost a month, and after a couple of bullpen sessions, faced hitters Thursday for the first time since.

Despite the success for the current five pitchers in the rotation -- Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu are a combined 24-9 with a 2.81 earned-run average -- Billingsley made it clear he wasn't preparing to become a reliever.

"I'm preparing to start right now," he said. "If they had some other thing, why would I be doing multiple innings? So in my mind-set, I'm preparing to start."

Aside from his first full-time season in 2007, Billlingsley has always been a starter.

Billingsley last started April 15, 2013, so he figures to need at least five rehab starts before joining the rotation. By then, some other starter could be injured.

Billingsley, 29, originally injured the elbow in 2012 and tried to come back through rehab and avoiding Tommy John. That lasted two starts before  he acceded to surgery.

He faced Chone Figgins and Jamie Romak in his two-inning simulated game Thursday.

"Definitely a little rusty, but I expected that, being the first time," he said.

"Kinda everything I'm doing now is like what guys coming to spring training would be doing."