­The Other Cleat Drops: Chad Billingsley to Have Tommy John Surgery Tomorrow

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 2:56 PM
  • Photo: Marco Torres for LA Weekly

Well, the news on Chad Billingsley couldn't be worse for the Dodgers.

Here is the statement from the club, issued this afternoon: "Chad Billingsley will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, April 24, at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles. Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the surgery. Chad had elected to undergo PRP injection and rehabilitation after injuring his elbow in August of 2012. He had been pain free and pitching without issue until he developed elbow pain during a bullpen on April 19. An MRI confirmed an injury to the ligament and typical recovery time back to competition is 12 months."

In other words, he's out for the 2013 season and quite possibly a good chunk of 2014. It's awful, awful, awful news for the Blue.

But before you go after the team for allowing their player to put off what most considered inevitable -- few major leaguers recover from a torn ulnar collateral ligament injury such as Billingsley's without surgery, and no starting pitcher has ever avoided it completely -- it was the young man's call. He's the patient; he decided.

You can fault the team for believing Bills had a snowball's chance in you-know-where of making it through the year, much less April ... and come to think of it, do. Knock yourselves out. Fault the Dodgers for that. "WTF" is the appropriate response.

But look, it's not like the Dodgers stuck their heads in the sand, and a la Frank McCourt did absolutely nothing to address a need by opening the purse strings. They spent a fortune -- $147 million, to be precise -- on the best available free agent starter on the market, Zack Greinke. And they spent another $36 mil on Hyun-jin Ryu, along with $25.7 mil more to his Korean Baseball Organization team for the right to sign him. And they got Josh Beckett in the big Boston Red Sox trade last summer. He's making $15.75 mil this year, another $15.75 in 2014.

Fine, so they let Aaron Harang go. You really want him back? Come on.

Moving forward, the Dodgers will presumably give Stephen Fife a shot at Billingsley's spot in the rotation, and see how it goes. Matt Magill might come up from triple-A Albuquerque if Fife doesn't work out, and maybe even if he does, and high-prized prospect Zach Lee might get an opportunity as well. Or we might see a trade.

We'll also see third catcher Tim Federowicz sent back to New Mexico, with a relief pitcher returning in his place, perhaps in time for Dodgers' 4:10 p.m. game with the Mets at Citi Field today.

L.A. has other things to worry about, like the thoroughly-sub-par hitting to date, and the absence of a legitimately big league left side of the infield, and a trainer's room floor covered in Ace bandages and gauze, but if there's one thing the Dodgers ought to be used to by now, it's drama. Dra-ma. They'll get it through it somehow.

Or maybe they won't. Either way, you won't have Chad Billingsley to kick around anymore. Decide for yourself if that's a good thing or not.

Follow Howard Cole and LA Weekly News on Twitter.

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