Chad Billingsley's elbow surgery went as expected. He is projected… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Six days removed from an elbow operation that ended his season, Chad Billingsley said on Tuesday that he had no regrets about trying to pitch this year.
Billingsley was diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in August, but opted for injections of platelets and rehabilitation instead of surgery. The two starts he made this season essentially delayed the procedure and his recovery by seven or eight months.
"If I would have had surgery at the end of August, I still would have missed all of this year," Billingsley said. "If I got hurt during the winter or during the spring or during the first couple weeks of the season, I was still going to miss all of this year."
What wouldn't change was his anticipated return date: opening day of the 2014 season.
The Dodgers estimate that Billingsley will be sidelined for 12 months, which points to his returning next May.
But Billingsley noted that teammate Chris Capuano returned from Tommy John surgery in 11 months. Billingsley said team physician Neal ElAttrache and medical services director Stan Conte told him that pitching at the start of next season is "very, very possible."
Billingsley said there were no signs that his elbow wouldn't hold up.
Of his rehabilitation last fall, he said, "They pushed me hard, hard enough where if my ligament wasn't going to hold up, it would have failed. My off-season program, I didn't feel anything. Trainers came out. Throwing throughout the winter, I felt no problems. In spring training I felt awesome."
For the first time this season, Carl Crawford was out of the lineup because of health problems. But it wasn't Crawford's surgically repaired elbow or chronically sore wrist that was the problem. The left fielder's right hamstring was tight.
Crawford's late scratch moved Jerry Hairston Jr. from right field to left. Andre Ethier, who was scheduled for a day off, started in right field.
Former closer Javy Guerra was recalled from triple-A Albuquerque, where he posted a 4.02 earned-run average in four appearances. Guerra has pitched four or more innings three times, including five innings in his most recent game, which Manager Don Mattingly said could make him suitable for a long relief role.
Josh Wall, who threw 62 pitches on Monday night, was optioned to Albuquerque.
Lilly has a tight back
Ted Lilly underwent a MRI exam on his back, which he said stiffened in the Dodgers' loss to the Rockies on Monday night. Lilly lasted only three innings, giving up five runs and eight hits.
Lilly received an injection in his right rib cage and will be re-evaluated on Thursday. If he can't take his scheduled turn in the rotation on Saturday, he will probably be replaced by rookie Matt Magill.
Mattingly sounded irritated that Lilly didn't inform the medical staff of his back problem until after the game. Lilly said he started feeling discomfort after his previous start.
"The frustrating part is when you're feeling it before you go out there and don't tell anybody," Mattingly said. "Let us make some plans. It's OK if he felt bad, but let somebody know and get treatment. At least we know going into the game. We should possibly have a guy here that can go four or five innings."
Kershaw still away
Clayton Kershaw was in Texas to attend a memorial service for his father, who died Sunday. Kershaw is expected to travel with the Dodgers to San Francisco on Thursday and remains on schedule to pitch in the series opener against the Giants on Friday.
Mark Ellis said his strained quadriceps feels better, but Mattingly remains unsure whether the second baseman will avoid landing on the 15-day disabled list. Ellis hasn't played since Friday. … Capuano remains scheduled to pitch for Albuquerque on Wednesday.