Originally written February 18, 2013 on ChadMoriyama.com:
The Dodgers begin their 2013 Spring Training with a ton of injury concerns, and now that the whole team has reported, it’s time for an update on player statuses. No better way to start this off than Chad Billingsley, who might be the biggest question mark of all, even if the depth acquired has mitigated the consequences if he does falter. Coaches say he looks normal, trainers have him on his normal schedule, and he says he feels normal. “I feel normal,” said Billingsley, who chose platelet-rich plasma injections over Tommy John surgery, as Takashi Saito did successfully five years ago. “There wasn’t a time in the offseason when I felt like I didn’t know if it would hold up,” Billingsley said. “I know some people think it’s an issue, but I don’t. I came to Spring Training not worried about it.” “They pushed me, basically gave me a chance to blow it out, figuring if it was going to fail, it would be better to know then,” said Billingsley. “In the simulated game, I felt awesome. I’m really excited.” Billingsley is on a regular schedule and he has no restrictions. “There hasn’t been any mention in any of the medical reports or anything else. His name’s not on a list, it’s not on anything. He’s just like one of the guys getting ready. We’re really getting to the point where we’re just assuming he’s going to be ready, and he’s going to be fine,” Mattingly said. Extremely difficult not to be encouraged, but we’ve heard this song and dance before with injuries, and it’s hard to argue against the previous science of trying to rehab partially torn elbow ligaments. Remember, not if, but when. —– Carl Crawford is another gigantic question mark for 2013, and he doesn’t seem to be coming along quite as quickly as he planned. Carl Crawford, though, is not as far along in his recovery from August Tommy John surgery on his left (throwing) elbow. He’s throwing up to 90 feet, hitting off a tee and hopes to graduate in the next few days to live pitching, which Kemp did weeks ago. Crawford said he’s “confident” he’ll be ready by Opening Day, depending on what the Dodgers “want to see.” “I think I can hit the cutoff man, but I don’t know if that’s where they want me to come back,” he said. “I think I’m an everyday guy, but I understand the thought of easing me back in.” Crawford said he has no pain in his elbow, “just typical muscle fatigue,” and that his arthritic left wrist hasn’t given him trouble, but “it’s something to stay on top of throughout the season.” Depending on what the Dodgers want to see? They want to see a healthy outfielder, not a guy who is 75% and lobbing the ball into the cutoff man. He has a noodle arm as it is, after all. On the positive side of things, Don Mattingly seems encouraged by his progress. Mattingly was very pleased with Carl Crawford, who participated in batting practice today. ” Carl was good, I was really surprised.” “With Carl being out on the field for the first time, he’d been swinging,” but today was the first time he was out on the field in a while. All three outfielders spent time hurt last year, so it seems weird they have three backups for the rotation, but don’t even have a platoon partner for Andre Ethier yet. —– Scott Elbert sounds encouraged even though he’s coming off elbow surgery that necessitated the signing of lefty relievers to ensure that the team isn’t just relying on Paco Rodriguez. “They didn’t give me a time frame, but it looks like May,” said Elbert, whose second surgery led to the signing of free-agent reliever J.P. Howell for $2.85 million. On Sept. 19, Elbert underwent a first procedure to remove scar tissue in the back of the elbow. But after beginning a throwing program, he developed pain in a different area that led to a Jan. 23 arthroscopic procedure involving “a new area of cartilage damage [that] was discovered and debrided” by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, according to Elbert. “It feels a lot better now,” Elbert said of the elbow. “After the first surgery, I tried throwing for two weeks but had to shut it down. It never calmed down; it just hurt.” Elbow surgery isn’t as significant a deal anymore, but when they start piling up, there has to be some concern there for the future a la Hong Chih Kuo. —– Kenley Jansen had a minor issue with an ingrown toenail, which doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about. Hell, I was almost glad the issue was that and not something related to his heart. —– In more worrisome news, Chris Withrow needs an MRI on his ailing back, the same problem that has plagued him in the minors. It’s becoming a chronic issue, and while he’s converted to a relief role in an attempt to reign in his stuff, this injury might be a bigger obstacle to his progress than his command at this point.

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