Dodgers Pitching Carousel: Draft Pick Rodriguez Up, Billingsley Done, Lilly Working His Way Back
The Dodger pitching staff keeps getting interesting as the days go by. On Wednesday, things took yet another turn.
Reporters were starting to trickle into the press box a couple of hours before batting practice. The several of us who were here saw left-handed pitcher Steven Rodriguez on the mound throwing a simulated game.
"It was just a little work to get a feel of the mound and get the trajectory of the ballpark," Rodriguez told reporters.
It was startling to see the Dodgers second round pick of the 2012 draft at Dodger Stadium and not in the winter workouts. It was mere months ago that Rodriguez was taking finals at the University of Florida. Armed with a combined 0.92 ERA in Single-A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga, he was getting ready for the Southern League playoffs with the Chattanooga Lookouts who will host the Jackson Generals on Saturday when he got the call to the Big Leagues on Tuesday.
Paco, as he insisted we all call him ("My mother calls me Steven when I'm in trouble,") was still without words even after having a day to digest the news.
"Let's be honest," Rodriguez said when asked if he felt this was real. "I'm just here to... I don't even know how to put it. I'm at a loss for words right now. I'm here, and I've got to perform at the end of the day. That's what matters. I've got to get over it eventually."
Mattingly admitted he had not seen Rodriguez live but have heard good reports.
"He's a college kid who has pitched in some big games," Mattingly said. "He has some angle for left-handers. That's what we're looking at, someone who can get a lefty out."
Despite throwing about 20 pitches in that simulated session, the Miami native said he would be ready to pitch in the game. "Absolutely."
To get Rodriguez on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers placed Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list with a tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament effectively ending his season. Billingsley knew his season was over two nights ago when Dr. Neal ElAttrache killed off the last shred of hope of returning this season.
"That night they told me I was like, 'Crap,'" Billingsley explained.
Billingsley just had a second platelet-rich plasma injection in his elbow and will wait to see how his elbow reacts to the treatment. Billingsley did say that Tommy John surgery could be a possibility, but he wouldn't know until he started throwing again in two weeks.
However there is no urgency for a surgery if needed.
"Typically the rehab is going to be a year," head trainer Sue Falsone said. "So even if this does trickle into spring of next year whether we did the surgery right now or we did it in January he's still looking at missing 2013. That's why we've got time right now."
After Rodriguez finished his get-to-know-Dodger-Stadium tosses, Ted Lilly came to the mound for a simulated inning against Luis Cruz, Matt Treanor and Adam Kennedy. Lilly made 28 pitches, a little more than the 15 pitches that was expected. But he was no worse for the wear.
"If I can't handle 28 pitches for all of the rest I've had and I don't feel fine tomorrow, then we have problems," Lilly said.
Mattingly was optimistic in what he saw from Lilly.
"He felt fine," Mattingly said. "He didn't have any issues while throwing. He felt comfortable on the mound. He looked fine from that standpoint."
"I certainly don't expect not to feel well," Lilly echoed.
Mattingly said Lilly will have a couple more simulated innings to build arm strength. Lilly, if activated, will be used out of the bullpen.
"We wouldn't be thinking of him for anything extended, more of getting a lefty out," Mattingly explained.
For all of the problems with the Dodgers pitching, Mattingly still came back to the same nagging problem: "We can talk about the bullpen and the guys we don't have, but at the end of the day we haven't done enough offensively."