The comeback from Tommy John surgery has been arduous for Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley. He has dealt with numerous setbacks, and few days ago he had to cut short a bullpen session due to discomfort. Billingsley went for tests and the results are in:
Yesterday, an MRI of Chad Billingsley's right elbow indicated that the UCL ligament was ok, but he had a partial tear of his flexor tendon.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 13, 2014
The most important thing is that the surgically repaired ligament is fine. A partially torn flexor tendon is no walk in the park either, but another Tommy John procedure would have been devastating. The Dodgers and Billingsley are currently mulling over their options, specifically surgery or rehab.
Billingsley, 29, had his elbow rebuilt last April, so he is already beyond the usual 12-month rehab period. He made two minor-league rehab starts in recent weeks before the elbow started acting up. Billingsley only made two starts in 2013 before getting hurt. He went 10-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 2012, his last full season.
Based on other pitchers who missed time with partially torn flexor tendons (Colby Lewis and Sean Burnett, for example), Billingsley would miss the rest of the season if he opts for surgery. Rehab would be a long process as well.
If he does miss the rest of the year, it's hard to see the Dodgers exercising the $14 million club option for 2015 in Billingsley's contract after what amounts to two lost seasons.