Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley confirmed that he’ll pitch in a minor-league game Saturday at Camelback Ranch.
Billingsley bruised the index finger on his pitching hand six days ago in a bunting drill but came back to throw a pain-free bullpen session Wednesday. His last Cactus League start was March 7 against the Texas Rangers. His last start of any sort came in a five-inning simulated game against minor leaguers on March 13, when Billingsley threw 78 pitches.
Zack Greinke wants to make 34 starts during the regular season.
He might get that chance after all.
Making his first start against live hitters since he was shut down with elbow tightness earlier this month, Greinke threw four shutout innings in a Triple-A game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
The right-hander allowed a single, hit a batter with a pitch, walked none and struck out two. He threw 43 pitches.
“It wasn’t perfect command. You saw me upset with several pitches,” Greinke said. “It was my first outing in two weeks, so I guess that’s kind of expected.”
The Dodgers shed a third catcher from their camp roster in as many days Tuesday by re-assigning Jesus Flores to the minors. That effectively hands the backup backstop’s job to Tim Federowicz.
Federowicz was the front-runner to be the number-two behind A.J. Ellis, but not a shoo-in when the Dodgers invited four more experienced catchers — Flores, Ramon Castro, Wilkin Castillo and Eliezer Alfonzo — as non-roster invitees. Alfonzo never reported to camp. Castro and Flores never hit. Castillo did (.333/.333/.389) but it wasn’t enough to unseat Federowicz, a 24-year-old who has never been on an Opening Day roster.
The bullpen picture became more clear when Shawn Tolleson was optioned to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp. The 25-year-old right-hander only allowed one run in seven appearances, but the team appears intent on giving a bullpen job to a more experienced righty such as Peter Moylan, Mark Lowe or Kevin Gregg, or rookie Josh Wall. The 34-year-old Gregg, who’s allowed two hits and no runs in six appearances, looks like the front-runner among that group. Left-hander Paco Rodriguez also remains in camp.
Justin Sellers was the third camp casualty Tuesday. The infielder was optioned to the minor-league camp after batting .150/.150/.190, with 3 hits and no walks in 21 plate appearances.
The major-league camp roster is down to 40 players.
(Update: Beckett indeed threw a simulated game on the back field and reportedly passed the test with flying colors.)
In his place, Josh Wall will start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely use a combination of relievers, including some minor-leaguers, to fill out the innings behind Wall, who hasn’t pitched more than 1 ⅔ innings in a Cactus League game this spring.
In case you missed it, I wrote about Carl Crawford‘s return to the Dodgers yesterday. It was an emotional one. He’ll be back in the lineup today against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch, leading off as the designated hitter. He’s expected to do the same tomorrow against the A’s. Crawford said Monday morning that he’s still pain-free in his surgically repaired left elbow.
As sometimes happens, there wasn’t room in the paper for everything I wrote. Here’s what you missed:
Zack Greinke throws a warmup pitch Sunday to Dodgers bullpen catcher Fumi Ishibashi. (Bad spring training photo by J.P. Hoornstra)
Zack Greinke threw approximately 38 pitches from a bullpen mound after making seven warm-up tosses today, an important step in his recovery from a stiff right elbow. He threw from the stretch and the windup, mixing in fastballs and all his breaking pitches, and reported no issues.
Greinke said that he “probably threw a little more” pitches than he initially planned. “I felt good. I was working on stuff to get ready for a game.”
However, he didn’t commit to a goal of making his first start of the season on April 2 at home against the San Francisco Giants, as the Dodgers had initially hoped.
“I just want to do what’s best for the team,” he said. “It’s not important what day.”
Greinke received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the elbow Monday and is running out of time if he wants to avoid skipping a start. The Dodgers have the luxury of playing just three games before their first scheduled off-day April 4 and another off-day four days later. So they could rest their $147 million pitcher until the third week of the season without needing an extra starter.
Tomorrow, six days after he received the PRP shot to treat inflammation in the back of his right elbow, Greinke could throw a light bullpen session at Camelback Ranch, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
“He’s good today,” Mattingly said. “Sounds like he’s encouraged. Stan (Conte, the Dodgers’ vice president of medical services) felt like (Greinke) was encouraged after he threw.”
Greinke began throwing from flat ground Friday and threw again Saturday morning.
“He played (catch) already,” Mattingly said. “He felt good today. He feels good. We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow.”
Initially, the team indicated that Greinke’s first bullpen session would have to wait until next week. If you believe the week begins on Sunday, Greinke is right on time; if you believe it begins on Monday then he’s slightly ahead of schedule.