LOS ANGELES -- Chad Billingsley, whose uncertain health spurred the Dodgers to their offseason spending spree for starting pitchers, said he's had no issues with his right elbow during the winter.
With less than two weeks before the first pitchers-and-catchers workout, Billingsley said he feels "absolutely great."
"Tomorrow I'll throw off a mound for the eighth time and I've had no issues," he told Jorge Jarrin on AM570's DodgerTalk Thursday night. "It's just like any other offseason."
Well, not exactly. This offseason, Billingsley is coming off a partially torn elbow ligament, the kind that usually requires Tommy John surgery and a year off to rehab. But Billingsley instead chose a conservative treatment with a pair of platelet-rich plasma injections and rest.
Billingsley spent the last five weeks of the 2012 season on the disabled list, resumed throwing in October and had two simulated games in Arizona, reaching 94 mph. He then shut down for a month before resuming his normal throwing program in January.
"Everything's been great," he said. "I've had no issues, no setbacks. Everything is looking good going into Spring Training."
That said, management was skeptical enough about Billingsley to spend more than $200 million to sign Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu, stacking the rotation in case Billingsley's elbow can't withstand the rigors of Spring Training.
If Billingsley proves healthy, the Dodgers will have a surplus of starting pitchers with Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly (who is coming off shoulder surgery). That is bound to lead to a trade.
At this point, Billingsley slots behind Clayton Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu and Josh Beckett, even though Billingsley's been the staff's No. 2 starter since Kershaw's emergence.
Just before his August injury, Billingsley showed how good he can be by winning six consecutive starts while posting a 1.30 ERA. He was the first Dodger to win six straight starts since Kevin Brown in 2003. That turned around his season after a career-worst five-start losing streak.
Billingsley is 80-61 lifetime and, after going 10-9 last year, joined the Phillies' Cole Hamels as the only active National League pitchers with double-digit wins for six consecutive seasons.