Dodgers Report: Chad Billingsley

Has Billingsley thrown last pitch for Dodgers?

June, 14, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- No matter what, Chad Billingsley's surgically repaired right elbow could keep him from pitching this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and there is a fair chance he has pitched his last game for the organization at any level.

Billingsley had been on the recovery road from Tommy John surgery in April of last year, but while pitching a rehab game last Sunday, the right-hander suffered a huge setback. He felt pain in his right elbow again, and an MRI exam showed a partially torn flexor tendon.

Now Billingsley is faced with two options, neither of them appealing: He can rehab the elbow with the hope of pitching again this season, or opt for surgery. If he rehabs and it doesn't fix the problem, he could risk reinjuring the already repaired ulnar collateral ligament that the first surgery fixed, and would face another surgery that would cause him to miss all of next season. Opting for surgery now assures he won't pitch again this summer but he could return to pitch next year.

It sounds as if Billingsley is leaning toward the surgery, but he won't know for sure until after he meets with team physician Neal ElAttrache on Sunday.

"Doing three years of rehab [if I miss next season] sounds like a grind," Billingsley said Saturday.

Billingsley has a $14 million club option for 2015, but if he isn't able to show this season that he can still be a valuable piece of the major league rotation, the Dodgers aren't likely to pick it up. Billingsley was asked if he had considered the possibility that he has thrown his last pitch for the organization.

"Oh, yeah. Last year [when I first got hurt]," Billingsley said. "I'm not there yet. I'll talk to Dr. ElAttrache and think about it and make my decision."

Mattingly: Carl Crawford doing 'really well'

June, 1, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- When he sprained his left ankle Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds, it looked as if Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford might be out at least a couple of weeks, maybe more, explaining why the team wasted no time putting him on the 15-day disabled list. Ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates, manager Don Mattingly was much more optimistic.

"He's doing really well. I say that cautiously, because I know [the medical staff] would like me to say that, but I think right now they've got their fingers crossed at how good he's doing," Mattingly said. "He actually hit off the tee a little bit today. I've seen him in the weight room doing a little agility stuff. If we would have had hitting on the field today they were going to allow him to hit. So Carl's doing really well. Again, I'm going to put a little caution on that just because it's an ankle and it looked pretty bad, but he's doing really well."

Mattingly noted Crawford has yet to start cutting at speed on the ankle, but indicated that short of any setbacks he has a very good chance to come off the DL June 11, his first day of eligibility.

Once he does, Mattingly faces some difficult decisions on how to portion out playing time among his four marquee outfielders, now that defensive problems have pushed Matt Kemp out of center field. Only Yasiel Puig has played well enough to earn daily inclusion in the lineup (and benching him would likely cause a riot, locally). Crawford was great in May, hitting .333 with four home runs and 14 RBIs, but neither he nor Andre Ethier is effective against left-handed pitching.

Behind the plate, Mattingly said catcher A.J. Ellis, who suffered an ankle injury of his own during the celebration after Josh Beckett's no-hitter last Sunday, is also making progress, though not as fast as Crawford.

"At this point he's doing pretty well," Mattingly said. But asked whether Ellis would be available immediately following his own stint on the 15-day DL, Mattingly was noncommittal.

"That one's a little more up in the air," he said.

Right-hander Chad Billingsley, recovering from Tommy John surgery, will throw a simulated game Tuesday, and if all goes well would move on to a minor league rehab start.

"How they would build him up to his pitch count to where he'd need to be to be ready, I haven't heard that," Mattingly said.

With all five Dodgers starting pitchers thriving, Mattingly currently has no opening in his rotation. Once Billingsley is able to return -- he'll require multiple minor league starts -- the Dodgers will have to figure out his role.

"It just depends on where we're at at that time. Obviously if everything's going really well and everybody's pitching well, you just can't turn the apple cart over," Mattingly said. "You've got to work your way back in. So I don't know if at that point it would be a bullpen spot. Right now, we're going to build him up to be what he's been for us, that's a starter and a good one. Just trying to get him healthy right now and then use him the best way we can."

Hyun-Jin Ryu on track for next week

May, 16, 2014
PHOENIX -- Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a four-inning simulated game at Camelback Ranch on Friday morning and it might have been his final tune-up before re-joining the Dodgers' rotation.

Ryu has been out since his April 27 game against the Colorado Rockies because of some inflammation in his left shoulder, but he felt good after throwing 60 pitches in the simulated game and another 15 in the bullpen afterward.

It appears Ryu will return to face the New York Mets on Wednesday in New York though the team has yet to announce that.

"We're pretty confident. His pen the other day was just ridiculous for a guy who hadn't thrown the ball in 10 days," manager Don Mattingly said. "He throws the ball wherever he wants. So, again, we'll just see where he's at [Saturday] as far as the way he feels. Everybody liked the way he threw the ball."

Ryu's return would put the Dodgers at full strength, with the exception of rehabbing pitcher Chad Billingsley. It would also push Paul Maholm back to the bullpen. He allowed 10 runs, five of which were earned, in Wednesday’s start against the Miami Marlins.
LOS ANGELES -- As Chad Billingsley works his way back from Tommy John surgery, he has started to ponder why so many fellow pitchers have joined the club he never wanted to be part of.

[+] EnlargeChad Billingsley
AP Photo/Paul SancyaIf all continues to go as expected, Chad Billingsley could be back with the Dodgers sometime next month.
The Miami Marlins' Jose Fernandez is the latest bright, young pitcher who might be headed for the season-ending surgery pioneered by longtime Dodgers team physician Frank Jobe. Billingsley had his surgery 13 months ago and threw his second bullpen session before Tuesday night's game, mixing fastballs and changeups. He had to restart his throwing program after experiencing pain in his elbow two weeks ago.

An unprecedented number of pitchers have been diagnosed with torn elbow ligaments requiring Tommy John surgery since the start of spring training. They include Braves right-handers Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Cory Gearrin; Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin; Athletics starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin; Rays All-Star Matt Moore; Yankees starter Ivan Nova; Padres starter Josh Johnson; Mets closer Bobby Parnell; Royals setup man Luke Hochevar; Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon; and top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon.

Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg are other All-Stars who have had the ligament-transplant operation, which can take 12 to 18 months for recovery.

"What we do is not natural," Billingsley said. "No one knows the answer. Guys' arms go out. What's Jose, 22? I was 28. You get it at a young age, in old age. Every guy's mechanics are different in such a way, it'd be so hard to pinpoint one, two, three things. You see guys where you're like, 'How does he do it without hurting his shoulder or elbow?' and they do it for years. There are guys who look like they have great mechanics and they can't stay healthy. It's just an unnatural motion."

Billingsley joked that the only solution might be to start throwing underhand.

"Hey, softball players can throw 12 innings in back-to-back days," he said.

Billingsley was diagnosed with tendinitis and received an injection of platelet-rich plasma and has now thrown two bullpen sessions. Assuming he feels good after he mixes in breaking balls, he figures to begin a rehab assignment and could be back sometime in June.

Dodgers reach to minors for catching help

April, 30, 2014
It has been a different kind of season for Tim Federowicz, who seemed to cement himself in the backup catcher role last season but has already been optioned to Triple-A twice this season. The Dodgers sent him down again Wednesday in favor of veteran catcher Miguel Olivo, who was hitting .390 with four home runs and 18 RBIs for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Federowicz, who has been doing a lot of the catching with A.J. Ellis working his way back from knee surgery, has no one to blame but himself. He was batting .109 in 50 plate appearances.

Olivo, 35, was on a minor-league deal, so the Dodgers had to make room on their 40-man roster to get him to the major leagues. They transferred Chad Billingsley to the 60-day disabled list, another indication that his rebound from Tommy John surgery hasn’t gone as well as it appeared it might in spring training.

Billingsley received an injection of platelet-rich plasma in his right elbow last week and is hoping to resume his throwing program this week. He felt discomfort in his elbow during a throwing session in San Francisco. MRI results showed tendinitis.

Olivo, a 10-year veteran, hasn’t played in a major-league game since June 12, 2013. He reportedly walked out on the Miami Marlins two days after that, upset about a lack of playing time. The Marlins responded by placing him on the restricted list, where he was not paid and could not sign with another team.

Dodgers in better shape to withstand injuries

April, 10, 2014
There are some eerie similarities. The Dodgers began the 2013 season winning six of their first 10 games, precisely as they have done this year.

In the ninth game of 2013, Zack Greinke broke his collarbone in a fight with Carlos Quentin in San Diego. The injuries kept piling up and, by the latter days of June, the Dodgers had dug themselves a deep hole, going 24-38 after Greinke went down.

Greinke’s injury came in his second start. The Dodgers’ other Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, was injured making his first start of this season. Days later, Brian Wilson, the No. 2 reliever, went on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his twice-repaired right elbow. A week later, starting catcher A.J. Ellis took an awkward step trying to score from second and tore the meniscus in his knee. He had surgery and will be out for at least a month.

Chad Billingsley had a setback in his first rehab start, feeling something in his surgically repaired right elbow.

Again, the blows have been coming with steady regularity in the early weeks, but the Dodgers feel they’re much better equipped to handle injuries -- presuming they don’t proliferate too much -- than they were a year ago. General manager Ned Colletti learned his lesson after suffering through the first half of 2013. The winter that followed was all about disaster control.

“A lot of teams have things going on,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters this week. “It’s really what Ned and his guys prepared for during the winter when you’re trying to build a team, build depth.”

Nobody could have predicted Kershaw would get hurt. He had never been on the disabled list before. He had pitched through hip and foot injuries. But it was a pretty good bet that other pitchers would go down. All you had to do was look at the first few weeks of 2013, when the Dodgers had to use eight starting pitchers in the first 20 games.

So, Colletti took as few chances as he could. He signed veteran Dan Haren to a one-year, $10 million deal then added Paul Maholm as insurance – for $1.5 million to $6.5 million depending on incentives -- though he was pretty sure he’d have Josh Beckett and Billingsley back before too long. That’s seven starting pitchers, plus Zach Lee off to a good start at Triple-A. It will be hard for the Dodgers to thrive without Kershaw -- his presence every five days is a major boost to the team’s confidence -- but they’re at least equipped to survive while he’s out.

They’re deeper still in the bullpen. Even without Wilson, they have five relievers on guaranteed contracts. One who is not, Chris Withrow, has replaced Wilson with electrifying stuff. In his first five outings, Withrow, 24, has allowed two base runners in six innings while striking out nine. Sunday, he struck out the side against the San Francisco Giants on just 10 pitches.

Jansen has struggled somewhat lately, but the Dodgers’ biggest issue might be finding a roster spot for Wilson when he returns rather than replacing his quality innings.

The loss of Ellis will be harder to gauge, because of his No. 1 strength, putting the Dodgers’ game plan into action by calling pitches. His 3.06 catcher’s ERA led the majors last season. Tim Federowicz had a 3.61 catcher’s ERA in 45 games and Drew Butera is considered a plus defensive catcher, so it’s possible the Dodgers could survive this blow as well.

Once again, the Dodgers are forced into hold-the-line mode in April, but it feels like a much more doable task this time.

Billingsley lifted after one inning

April, 6, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley was lifted for precautionary reasons after only one inning in his first rehabilitation appearance since having Tommy John surgery last year.

Manager Don Mattingly said that Billingsley "felt a little sensation" in his arm after the first inning of a game with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, but the club doesn't believe he suffered any kind of a setback. Billingsley was examined by team doctor Neal ElAttrache when he returned to Dodger Stadium and passed all of the tests in the exam.

"It gave us a little scare when we first heard about it," Mattingly said. "But then we got the good news during the game that Doc looked at it and felt pretty good about it."

The Dodgers and Billingsley had loosely targeted a mid-May return. It's not known how Sunday's developments will affect that timetable.

Billingsley maybe a month from return

April, 4, 2014
LOS ANGELES – Chad Billingsley just might re-join the Dodgers rotation before Clayton Kershaw does.

Billingsley begins a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and said he has five starts planned. After that, the team might activate him from the disabled list. That could put him on track for a return right around May 6.

Billingsley had Tommy John surgery last April.

“I'm using this as a spring training, fine-tuning mechanics and working on my pitches. When I feel ready and they feel I'm ready, I'll be back,” Billingsley said. “Guys have this surgery all the time. Nothing new."

Some of Billingsley’s rehab starts will be in Rancho Cucamonga and others will be for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Kershaw is limited to playing light catch and is to be re-evaluated to see if he can begin a throwing program in about two weeks. Even if he’s cleared then, Kershaw likely would need a rehab assignment, too, and isn’t expected to return until mid-May at the earliest.

Chad Billingsley to face hitters next week

March, 13, 2014
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chad Billingsley might be the happiest player in Dodgers’ camp these days.

After 11 months of laborious rehab and 16 bullpen sessions, he is about to face hitters again. That step will come late next week against Dodgers’ minor-leaguers, Billingsley said, and it could be followed up fairly quickly by pitching in real games.

Shortly after the minor league season begins – on April 3 – Billingsley said he will begin his minor-league rehabilitation assignment. That will essentially be his spring training. He’ll begin by pitching two innings and, once he progresses to throwing 100 pitches, he could be ready to re-join the Dodgers’ rotation. Late April isn’t out of the question. Early May seems likely.

He is, in other words, well ahead of the typical rehab schedule for a pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery. Billingsley underwent the procedure last April 25.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a really good rehab,” Billingsley said. “It’s a pretty boring process, so it’s nice to be able to think about getting out there again to face hitters.”

Billingsley has thrown fastballs, curveballs and changeups in bullpen sessions, but has not yet thrown his cutter or slider.

The Dodgers gave a pretty good indication Billingsley was progressing nicely last month when they decided not to put him on the 60-day disabled list when they added Erisbel Arruebarrena to the 40-man roster. Had they put Billingsley on the 60-day DL, he would have been ineligible to return until May 18.

Instead, the team designated shortstop Justin Sellers for assignment and he wound up with the Cleveland Indians.

Billingsley has spoken to ex-Dodger Chris Capuano frequently about enduring the lengthy rehab. Capuano underwent two Tommy John surgeries. The man who invented the surgery, Dr. Frank Jobe, died last week. He was 88.
Three or four years ago, Dan Haren could overpower hitters and, when they began to get on his 93-mph fastball, throw a split-finger pitch that would make them look foolish.

Now, he’s a different pitcher, a series of minor injuries sapping some of his arm strength. He has to use his wiles.

You could see him thinking his way through the Angels lineup in Thursday’s Cactus League game at Tempe Diablo Stadium, where Haren used to train. These days, Haren’s pitch of choice most often is his cutter and, when you see him running it in effectively on left-handed hitters, you have a pretty good idea things are working well for him.

He got Raul Ibanez to swing and miss at something off-speed in the second inning. Two innings later, Ibanez looked fooled while hitting a weak infield pop-up. Erick Aybar took a called third strike. Kole Calhoun hit a little tapper to Adrian Gonzalez.

This is how Haren does things these days and it added up to four scoreless innings, continuing a strong early spring (1.50 ERA) for the veteran right-hander.

Haren continuing his strong finish to 2013 is far from the only good news the Dodgers have gotten lately from the back of their rotation. As Zack Greinke works his way back from a strained right calf and Clayton Kershaw continues to beat himself up for some shaky early outings, the rest of the rotation has produced nothing but positive story lines.

Josh Beckett continues to wait nervously for something to go wrong in his surgically repaired right shoulder, but so far it hasn’t. He has been pain-free all spring and, the other day, got back on a mound in a competitive situation for the first time in 10 months and pitched two scoreless innings. Could he be all the way back, and what would that mean for a rotation already viewed as formidable?

Even Chad Billingsley is making waves. According to, he was touching 90 mph in a bullpen session Thursday. The Dodgers now expect him to be pitching for them some time in May, a couple of months ahead of a typical Tommy John rehab schedule.

It appears as if Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu will make the two starts in Australia, which are just a couple of weeks away. Greinke threw a bullpen session Thursday and looks like he’ll be healthy going into April. But nobody worried much about those three guys going into the spring. The pitchers people wondered about were the two coming off surgery and Haren, who is trying to re-invent himself.

As always with such rebound efforts, it’s a delicate process. But with just 10 days left in the desert, the results have been nothing but encouraging.

Do the Dodgers need another starting pitcher?

January, 22, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- If you suspect that Dan Haren won’t bounce back or that Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley won’t regain their arm strength after surgery, you could argue that starting pitching depth is one of the Dodgers’ weaknesses heading into spring training.

Beyond Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, you find a long series of question marks.

And if you happened to represent one of the many free agent pitchers who remain unsigned, you might be compelled by this information to call Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. Several have. News that Masahiro Tanaka had agreed to sign with the New York Yankees figures to spur more phone calls to Colletti.

He is listening, which is not exactly the same thing as looking, but could lead to the same result.

There has been a serious logjam of starting pitchers piling up during the Tanaka saga. Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Bronson Arroyo, among others, remain unsigned. Santana and Jimenez received qualifying offers, which means that landing them would cost the Dodgers a draft pick. That seems unlikely, given the team’s imperative to rebuild the farm system gutted by Frank McCourt. Neither Garza nor Arroyo received qualifying offers, which could put them in play.

But, just as in the Tanaka talks, other teams -- the Toronto Blue Jays come to mind -- could find their need for starting pitching compels them to out-bid the Dodgers, who might not need any more starters at all.

It’s worth noting that Billingsley and Haren both have significantly better career ERAs than Santana, Garza or Arroyo. Arroyo, 36, is significantly older than any of the Dodgers' current projected starters, though also remarkably durable. It also seems fairly likely that at least one of the Dodgers’ mature pitching prospects -- Zach Lee, Ross Stripling, Chris Reed or Matt Magill -- will prove ready to contribute significantly in 2014.

Having missed on Tanaka, the Dodgers might be best served to step aside for the remainder of the free agency period.

Dodgers call up Scott Van Slyke

May, 10, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers selected the contract of minor-league slugger Scott Van Slyke before their game Friday with the Miami Marlins to try to add a little pop to their struggling bench. He is the son of longtime major-league outfielder Andy Van Slyke.

Scott Van Slyke was batting .397 with nine home runs and a 1.236 OPS at Triple-A Albuquerque. The Dodgers moved him to the outfield the past few games to give him greater versatility. The Dodgers sent Elian Herrera back to Albuquerque and transferred Chad Billingsley to the 60-day disabled list to clear room for Van Slyke on the 25-man and 40-man rosters.

Van Slyke, 26, played 27 games for the Dodgers last year, batting .167 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Billingsley underwent Tommy John surgery on April 24 and is expected to be out at least one year.

Quick take: Dodgers can survive pitching crunch

April, 23, 2013

Clayton Kershaw is the kind of pitcher who can soothe a lot of stressed-out baseball fans and team executives.

You know what else can calm down a group of people whose heads are spinning over the sudden churning up of the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching depth? Scoring some runs.

[+] EnlargeMark Ellis
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesMark Ellis, right, receives congratulations from teammates after his three-run homer in the seventh inning Tuesday.
Mark Ellis, also known as the guy people forget when they are listing Dodgers hitters who aren't struggling, powered the Dodgers to a 7-2 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field with a pair of home runs Tuesday.

That little dose of good news did a bit to settle the stomachs of those worried over the day's earlier news about Chad Billingsley being scheduled to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Kershaw had shaky command, the Mets had patient at-bats and drove him out of the game after just five innings and 111 pitches. Kershaw did what he often does in such situations: he slogged along enough for his team to have a shot.

As good as Kershaw is, he's not an island unto himself. The Dodgers, as usual, are built around pitching and defense, but the breakdown in their pitching depth has been less troubling than three weeks of anemic offense. For $230 million, you ought to be able to buy a little more than the 29th-highest scoring team in baseball.

"We can't just rely on Kersh when he's out there,” Ellis said in a postgame TV interview on KCAL. "Sometimes, when he's out there I think we think he's going to be so good that we relax a little bit. We need to go out and score runs no matter who's pitching for us."

So, assuming that Tuesday was an indication the Dodgers won't stay in their slumps forever -- and don't make any judgments off Wednesday, when they face phenom Matt Harvey -- this pitching situation isn't really all that worrisome. It seems as if it is because of the condensed timing of the injuries, but it's really not.

(Read full post)

Billingsley's out: The blows keep coming

April, 21, 2013
Chad BillingsleyChristopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsThe Dodgers' surplus of starters is a thing of the past.
The math is elementary. Eight minus four equals worrisome.

The Los Angeles Dodgers figured they had eight starting pitchers when they got back from Arizona. Seven of them made the Opening Day roster and one, Ted Lilly, would continue building up his arm strength while on the disabled list.

It wasn’t ideal, particularly for the players involved, but it was reassuring. The Dodgers were protected against three injuries to starting pitchers. How many other teams could say that?

But that state of equilibrium couldn’t hold. The Dodgers were pressured to trade Aaron Harang when they couldn’t find any way to use him. So, now they were protected against injuries to two of their pitchers. Still pretty good.

And then they got three injuries to starting pitchers in 10 days. Chad Billingsley was put on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with pain in the same elbow that put him on the DL twice last season. Once again, it appears as if he might be headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery. Perhaps they’ll go with the platelet-rich plasma therapy again, but that clearly didn’t work the first time.

Billingsley will be evaluated in Los Angeles Tuesday and, presumably, pick an option by the middle of next week.

Zack Greinke is already on the DL with a broken left collarbone and Chris Capuano is there with a strained left calf.

So, now, Steven Fife – who had to deal with all sorts of frustration in spring training stuck behind eight pitchers on guaranteed contracts -- is forced into action. The Dodgers are lucky they have a guy like him, a strike thrower with some major-league success. He had a 4.61 ERA in Triple-A, but that’s not all that bad when you’re pitching in the high desert.

Now, he just has to pick up that first major-league win.

For a team with the payroll and expectations of the Dodgers, these are the moments that can feel like that long pause before the roof caves in. And it just might. They had lost six in a row coming into Sunday. They aren’t hitting well enough to support mediocre pitching. The only night they’re guaranteed they won’t get that is when Clayton Kershaw jogs to the mound and they’ve offered Kershaw virtually no run support so far.

It is a moment of crisis. The way a team reacts to those -- and it’s rare that, over a six month season, a few don’t arrive -- can determine its postseason fate.

Forget about who can replace Billingsley in the rotation. To hold the line until Zack Greinke returns, perhaps in mid-June, the Dodgers have to hit. They will, at least better than they have so far. It's impossible to think they'll stay this bad, isn't it?

They entered Sunday 29th in the majors in runs scored. That is both ridiculous, given what they’re paying these hitters, and likely unsustainable. Matt Kemp will either get it going or be asked to take a step back and let his shoulder heal more fully on the disabled list. Hanley Ramirez could be back in a couple of weeks, which might be a mixed blessing. His bat offers far more than Justin Sellers’, but his glove offers far less.

The Dodgers have been getting runners on base. What they’ve lacked is scoring hits, specifically home runs and hits with runners in scoring position. The resumes of their hitters suggest those trends won’t stay stuck on empty all year.

So, the Dodgers might want to tap into the vibe from early last season, when they won despite a bunch of no names. This team, depleted as it is, still has more talent every day it gets dressed.

They can either rally back from the bad luck or wallow in pity. Given their payroll, much of the country would love nothing more than to watch this team fail spectacularly.

“Nobody is going to sit there and feel sorry for us,” manager Don Mattingly told reporters Sunday.” We have to go out and play and win a game.”

It’s kind of that simple.

So far, the Dodgers haven't quieted many doubters

April, 15, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- Even entering this season of soaring expectations, the Los Angeles Dodgers left many people in baseball wondering how a team with a record payroll could have so many unanswered questions.

[+] EnlargeKemp
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsThe state of Matt Kemp's swing is just one of many unanswered questions still plaguing the Dodgers two weeks into the season.
Two weeks into the season, they haven't provided many answers.

We still don't know if Matt Kemp has recovered from a serious shoulder injury. Even if he has, when will his swing look healthy again? We still don't know if Luis Cruz can replicate his out-of-the-blue 2012 season. We still don't know if L.A. has adequate depth. We still don't know if all those expensive fixes to the lineup were upgrades or just cosmetic touch-ups.

Granted it's not ideal to lose your starting shortstop and No. 2 starter by Tax Day, but a team spending $200 million-plus would typically come up with more reassuring answers than Justin Sellers and Chris Capuano.

The Dodgers are averaging 2.8 runs per game. They rank 28th in the majors in runs scored. The problem hasn't been generating motion, it has been sparking action. By every measure of clutch hitting -- average with runners in scoring position, with runners on -- they've been flat-out awful. No way around it.

"I'm not happy with the bottom line of what's going on," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We're getting our share of hits, we're getting our share of guys out there."

If anything, the Dodgers are showing signs of springing more leaks rather than growing more seaworthy. Cruz is batting .111 and it seems, at times, as though he pops the ball up in every at-bat. If Cruz can't hold down third base, where will the Dodgers turn? Is Los Angeles ready for a summer of Juan Uribe?

Capuano makes his first start Tuesday after two weeks of mental atrophy in the bullpen. The relievers started out like gangbusters, but have allowed 11 runs in 13 innings to the San Diego Padres, walking batter after batter. There have been flashes of excitement this season, but there also have been plenty of long games that seem to go nowhere.

"We walked six guys there in the last three innings. We had a game like that in San Diego where we walked five in an inning," Mattingly said. "Those kind of things concern me a little bit."



Clayton Kershaw
21 1.77 239 198
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239