Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley focuses on technique
Reporting from Phoenix -- Chad Billingsley’s goal remains the same: for his results to reflect the quality of his arm.
But Billingsley is taking a different approach this spring in his prolonged quest to rid himself of his reputation as an underachiever.
Whereas Billingsley spoke at length about the mental aspect of pitching last spring — “Sometimes, I can get in my own head,” he said at the time — the Dodgers’ projected No. 2 starter is now focused on the technical.
Billingsley, 27 and entering his seventh major league season, has made a minor change to his delivery. No longer does he kick out his left foot when he lifts his lead leg, which started a chain reaction of mechanical problems when his timing wasn’t perfect. The foot now stays under his body.
Billingsley’s numbers this spring are unspectacular; he has a 4.97 earned-run average in 122/3 innings over four starts.
But Billingsley sees something beyond the numbers that he thinks might be a sign of an impending breakthrough.
“Everything has life at the end of it,” he said.
Catcher A.J. Ellis said he sees the same from behind the plate.
“When Chad was a little off with his mechanics, the ball had a tendency to cut and it didn’t have the same carry through the strike zone,” Ellis said. “Now, when he throws the ball, it has that explosion again.”
The mechanical inconsistencies are why Billingsley said he has been consistently inconsistent. He has been downright dominant at times, such as in the first half of the 2009 season when he made the All-Star team. But he has been equally awful in others, which is why he was 35-33 over the last three seasons.
Ellis, who first caught Billingsley when they were in Class A, said he believes the changes Billingsley has made to his delivery could change that.
“It’s very repeatable,” Ellis said. “Every time I’ve caught him, it’s become more and more consistent. It’s helping his secondary pitches too. His changeup is as good and consistent as I’ve seen it ever since I started catching him in rookie ball. The curveball is tightening up as well.”
Ellis said Billingsley could be on the verge of a special season.
“It’s in there,” Ellis said. “I know it is. I think the key for him and for us is putting a couple good starts together at the beginning of the year and building some momentum.”
Belisario back on roster
Reliever Ronald Belisario was reinstated to the 40-man roster from the restricted list, which resulted in Ramon Troncoso’s being designated for assignment.
Belisario missed last season because he was denied entry into the United States after testing positive for cocaine at the U.S. Embassy in his native Venezuela. He must serve a 25-game suspension at the start of the upcoming season in accordance with baseball’s drug policy.
Troncoso was a key part of the Dodgers’ bullpen as a rookie in 2009 when he posted a 2.72 ERA. He made 73 appearances that season, which tied him for the most on the team, and wasn’t the same after that.
Troncoso was removed from the 40-man roster. The Dodgers have 10 days to put him on waivers, or trade or release him.
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