In a move that was far from unexpected, the Los Angeles Dodgers have announced that Chad Billingsley has elected to undergo season-ending surgery on the torn flexor tendon in his elbow. The other option available to Billingsley – stem-cell injection therapy – was too risky given the state of his recently repaired ulnar collateral ligament. According to Billingsley (via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com):
“If I do the stem-cell and it fails, it could lead to another Tommy John and I might not ever pitch again. This is my best chance to pitch again. With stem-cell, the percentages were not in my favor and it was playing with fire."
Billingsley will undergo the surgery sometime next week, and it will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodger team surgeon. Billingsley will be unable to throw for at least three months following the surgery.
The future for Billingsley is not clear, at least as it relates to the Dodgers. There is very little doubt that the Dodgers will exercise the buyout on the right-handed pitcher’s $14 million option for 2015 at a cost of $3 million. It may be possible that the Dodgers take a flier on an incentive-laden deal to keep Billingsley around, but that decision will not have to be made for quite some time. For his part, Billingsley is unconcerned about his contract status, saying:
"I'm not really worried about that. I'm worried about being healthy."
Billingsley has had a solid career for the Dodgers, going 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA. Over his eight seasons with the Dodgers, he had accumulated over 1,000 (1,037) in his 1,175 innings of work. The advanced metrics were fond of him as well, as his FIP checks in at 3.67. During his best season, 2008, Billingsley went 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA. He then earned a place on the All-Star team the following season, as he went 9-4 with a 3.38 ERA in the first half before faltering in the second.
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