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Dodgers, Chad Billingsley and Damocles: Optimism hard to unearth

April 21, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Chad Billingsley has pitched 12 innings in two starts this season. He's 1-0 with a 3.00 earned-run average.
Chad Billingsley has pitched 12 innings in two starts this season. He's… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)

Dodgers’ optimists everywhere, how do you like Sunday’s challenge?

How does anyone hear the Chad Billingsley news and not think the absolute worst? Visualize surgery and his losing the season, and parts of next season?

The sword of Damocles, indeed.

Everyone knew from the instant Billingsley elected to try to rehab his elbow instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery that this was a possibility. The pessimists called it inevitable.

Billingsley made it through two starts before the elbow barked again. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday and is scheduled to return to Los Angeles to have his MRI reviewed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Billingsley said the pain was in a different place, and maybe that’s hopeful news. Maybe the previous injury is fine and he’s simply overdone it and created soreness elsewhere, soreness that can be remedied with rest.

And maybe he’s headed for the knife. Maybe the team that started the season with eight veteran starters and is now down to three-plus is in serious trouble.

Trouble beyond a six-game losing streak, beyond being six games out in the National League West after playing only 17 games.

The rotation problem is hardly the fault of Don Mattingly or Ned Colletti or anyone on the Dodgers. They prepared as best you could expect. Zack Greinke’s fractured collarbone was a freak injury. Chris Capuano’s calf almost weird. Things happen out of your control.

Billingsley, though, they never could feel good about. He was all about crossing fingers and being hopeful and Vin Scully’s sword of Damocles reference. Billingsley wanted this opportunity, and it wasn’t as if the Dodgers could force him to have surgery.

And now they’re spinning in the wrong direction, after 17 games calling up Stephen Fife, wondering why knocking in every run is such a struggle, how their record payroll could have them so far behind the Colorado Rockies.

This is all ultimately expecting the worst Billingsley news to emerge, so maybe it’s misplaced and premature and hinting at panic. And maybe it’s a challenge too big even for team optimists.

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