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Billingsley wants to just get past it

February 15, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PHOENIX — Reluctant to talk about the way last season ended for him, Chad Billingsley responded to a question from a reporter with a question of his own.

"Why are we talking about the past right now?" he asked.

Is there any particular reason he didn't want to talk about it?

"I've talked about it," he said.

Not really, he was told.

Pressed, the soft-spoken Billingsley eventually said something about how he was criticized inside his own clubhouse for not protecting Dodgers hitters in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

If he were to do it over, he said, "I may have thrown inside a little bit more instead of letting the hitters be a little bit more comfortable at the plate."

In that game, Phillies starter Brett Myers threw at the heads of Russell Martin and Manny Ramirez.

Billingsley was among the pitchers and catchers who reported for the first day of workouts at Camelback Ranch, the new spring training facility the Dodgers share with the Chicago White Sox. He fractured his ankle slipping on his ice-covered porch this winter but said he is fully recovered and can train without any limitations. Saturday, he threw his sixth bullpen session of the year.

With Derek Lowe and Brad Penny no longer on the roster, Billingsley, 24, entered camp as the favorite to be the Dodgers' opening-day starter. He was 16-10 with a 3.14 earned-run average in the 2008 regular season but lost both his NLCS starts, giving up 11 runs in five innings.

Manager Joe Torre said he would make it a point to speak to Billingsley soon.

"I don't want him to put any more weight on himself than he normally would," Torre said. "I think he would be the guy who would feel, all of a sudden, that he has much more responsibility."

First look

On the day the Dodgers opened the gates of their facility, longtime former traveling secretary Billy DeLury admitted that he missed their old spring training home in Vero Beach, Fla.

"You've got to," he said. "I spent 45 years in Vero Beach but it's over with now. You have to turn the page."

Looking over at the complex's main stadium, DeLury said, "This is quite a place. We're a West Coast team. We should be here."

Many parts of the facility, including the stadium, are still under construction. The stadium isn't expected to be finished until its first game, March 1 between the Dodgers and the White Sox. Finishing touches are also being put on the landscaping, roads and minor league clubhouse.

Torre applauded the move from Florida, citing the closer proximity among spring facilities in the Cactus League.

"Arizona is so much better than Florida for one reason: You're going to spend more time on the field than on the bus," he said.

Short hops

General Manager Ned Colletti spoke Friday with Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras. Neither Colletti nor Boras provided any details of the conversation. . . . Martin strained his left foot last week but the results of an MRI exam Friday came back negative. Martin caught a few bullpen sessions but was held out of running drills. . . . Travis Schlichting, a right-hander on the 40-man roster, has been shut down because of pain in his lower back.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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