Updating our earlier item about Chad Billingsley‘s next start on March 28, the Dodgers haven’t determined where it will be.
It definitely won’t be in Anaheim. Manager Don Mattingly said Saturday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will start the “Freeway Series” opener against the Angels at 7 p.m.
There’s also a 6 p.m. split-squad exhibition game that night against the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at The Epicenter. That would be the logical place for Billingsley to start, but it would cause a minor inconvenience if the Dodgers decide to put the right-hander on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised index finger when the regular season begins.
If Billingsley pitches in Rancho he wouldn’t be able to start his potential disabled list stint until March 29 because the exhibition game has a paid attendance. That’s an MLB rule. If the DL is still a possibility for him in four days, Billingsley would pitch in a game without a paid attendance, such as a simulated game at Camelback Ranch.
Billingsley wouldn’t be eligible to come off the DL until April 13 if he starts against the Quakes.
Even though he was able to pitch 4 2/3 pain-free innings Saturday, Billingsley didn’t throw a curveball because he can’t throw a curve without pain. Last year Billingsley threw curves on less than 3 percent of his pitches, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Billingsley “is going to need to have all his weapons” by the time he makes his first start of the season. Right now, that’s scheduled for April 2. If Billingsley goes on the DL, Ryu will make the start instead.
Speaking of Ryu, here are the projected Freeway Series matchups:
Thursday (in Anaheim): Ryu vs. Joe Blanton
Friday (in Los Angeles): Josh Beckett vs. Jason Vargas
Saturday (in Anaheim): Zack Greinke vs. Tommy Hanson
Dodgers president Stan Kasten returned from the construction zone that is Dodger Stadium with a vision of the future.
“Maybe not by Thursday,” he said, “but by Friday it will get done.”
The media, whose tour of the new-look stadium is still a few days away, aren’t the only ones skeptical of this pronouncement. The renovated clubhouses are supposed to be ready by Thursday, one day before the Dodgers host their first exhibition game against the Angels, and “I’m fully planning on winning several bets I had with a number of our players who doubted us,” Kasten said.
The ambitious project included unforeseen snags and cost overruns that ran the total bill “north” of $100 million, but overall Kasten had an upbeat outlook Saturday.
“We’re happy, proud and a little surprised it did get done,” he said.
If anything should make him nervous it’s Opening Day.
How good is Chad Billingsley without his curveball?
He was OK on Saturday afternoon in a Triple-A game against the Cleveland Indians at Camelback Ranch. Facing live hitters for the first time since he bruised the index finger on his right hand eight days ago, Billingsley threw 92 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, two runs, walking four and striking out seven. He threw one wild pitch and no curves.
More importantly, Billingsley reported no discomfort after the start. Can he start against the San Francisco Giants 10 days from now?
“As long as there’s no setbacks, yeah,” Billingsley said. “I’m planning to be ready.”