30-year old right-handed pitcher Chad Billingsley is scheduled to begin a rehab appearance in a Friday night start with the IronPigs. The former first-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers last pitched regularly in 2012 when he had 25 starts for the Dodgers, going 10-9 with a 3.55 ERA. He had only two starts in 2013 and has since missed significant time with elbow injuries–including two surgeries, and the resultant rehabilitation process. He did not pitch at all in the Majors in 2014, and had only two starts in the minors. Billingsley was signed to an incentive-laden MLB contract by the Phillies in the off-season.
Reports out of Clearwater have had Billingsley looking good during his throwing program, moving to live BP and minor league spring training games with no setbacks, and good effectiveness. The rehab start in Allentown on Friday is consistent with the time-frame set forth by the Phillies during Spring Training. However, it is a bit surprising to have him in Pennsylvania quite so quickly. Our experience around here is that veteran Major Leaguers will complete the vast majority of their rehab in warmer climates before joining the Phillies or maybe making a cameo in Allentown. At this stage, it is assumed that Chad may need two or three more starts before he’s ready to join the Phillies, but I’m sure that may change depending on what happens.
The other reason the rehab is surprising–and we did hear whispers about it at Media Day yesterday and before, despite the fact that I didn’t believe it–is that the forecast looks absolutely horrible. It’s looking cold and windy with the constant threat of rain. I’m not saying Mr. Billingsley can’t handle the weather–or even that they wouldn’t want to “harden” him before dropping him into the Phillies’ rotation–just that with the possibility of rain-outs and schedule changes, they’re being kind of aggressive here. I’m saying I don’t think Chad wants to be sitting around the IronPigs clubhouse waiting out rain delays–or getting warmed up only to have his start cancelled.
Alas, with home games all weekend, I suppose if they can’t get him some innings at some point over the first series with the Red Sox affiliate, they could try Reading or Lakewood once we leave town. If the weather’s really that bad on Friday, they could just tell him not to warm up so that he’s ready to go on Saturday. If he does get in on Friday night, he’d be in line to start the Wednesday “Education Day” morning start at Coca Cola Park. Reading would be home for a third start, but the thinking right now is that he’ll be ready to join the Phillies that week.
We’ll update with weather changes, expected innings, and changes in our own rotation schedule (in theory, Sev Gonzalez to Saturday, and Adam Morgan to Sunday) as we go along.
See you at the park tonight,