“We’re not prepared yet to set a timetable of 60 days for Chad,” general manager Ned Colletti said at the time.
That could change soon.
Tomorrow, Billingsley is scheduled to throw curveballs off a mound for the first time since having Tommy John surgery last April. The right-hander has been throwing curveballs off flat ground and fastballs off the mound since camp opened. However, the stress on his surgically repaired elbow — specifically, the ulnar collateral ligament that was transplanted from his left forearm — has been relatively light.
The curveball, Billingsley said Wednesday, “puts the most torque on the elbow.” At least one study has produced a different conclusion (specifically, that the fastball and curveball require the same amount of elbow torque), but the fact that he hasn’t attempted to throw the pitch with full force yet makes it a new test.
If he passes the test and emerges pain-free, Billingsley said he’ll be cleared to throw sliders. Adding the slider would give Billingsley the full arsenal he needs to face live batters in a rehab game.
In his last bullpen session Tuesday, Billingsley said his fastball topped out at 87 mph — the fastest he’s thrown the pitch since camp began. His fastball has was topping out around 95 mph prior to the surgery, but comparing games to bullpen sessions is unfair.
“When you’re throwing bullpens it’s hard to go max effort and hit a really high velocity,” Billingsley said. “You’ve got to have adrenaline, the hitter’s presence in the batter’s box.”
Billingsley recently said that, in a best-case scenario, he would be able to start a minor-league game by the end of camp.
We’ll know tomorrow whether or not that scenario is still realistic.
Some bullet points for a Rare Disease Day:
• Updating my post from earlier today, Zack Greinke played catch for at least five minutes from flat ground this morning with head athletic trainer Stan Conte. We probably won’t know if he’s been cleared to throw a bullpen session Saturday until after the Dodgers play the Chicago White Sox today.
• From the San Francisco Chronicle: “It just might come to pass that the prognosticators missed their cutoff men, as well. Let’s see the Dodgers actually dominate before declaring it a foregone conclusion.”
• DodgersDigest.com analyzes the Dodgers’ options in right field.
• For all the attention the Dodgers received for spending freely on their bullpen (projected at a league-high $32.9 million) the unit ranks 15th in the majors as a percentage of overall team payroll. That’s because the Dodgers’ payroll projects to $223 million.
• A webpage has been created to provide live visual updates of the Sydney Cricket Ground’s transformation into a baseball stadium.
• The MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton will host its annual Breakthrough Series camp — a scouting showcase tailored for minority youth baseball players — from July 19-28. FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal wrote a good piece explaining the background of the event.
• Anyone would improve his or her craft tremendously by eliminating these phrases from their writing.
• The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger has a new single that’s less folk, and more rock, than anything Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl have put out. I approve of this musical direction.