Billingsley Pitches Six in Minor Game

While the White Sox and Giants battled it out in Camelback Park, tucked away on a pair of minor league fields two of the Dodgers young and talented pitchers faced Cleveland minor league teams. But the two pitchers at the present time are heading in opposite directions.

Chad Billingsley will apparently pitch the second game of the season and the home opener, while James McDonald will open the season in Albuquerque to iron out his command problems.

The two fields are cheek-to-jowl so team officials could keep an eye on each field and monitor the performance of the two pitchers. And many of them there -- Assistant General Manager, Player Development Dejon Watson; Vice President and Assistant General Manager Kim Ng and Chris Haydock, Assistant Director, Player Development, most of the minor league staff and numerous members of the Los Angeles Press Corps to name a few.

That said, the majority of the attention focused on Billingsley.

Coming off a broken leg in December, 2008, the 25-year-old made a career-high 32 starts but his first and second half were completely different. He was 9-3, 3.48 before the All-Star break and over his first 14 starts as was tied for second in wins in the National League on June 14. He was selected to the All-Star team for the first time.

Slowed by a nagging hamstring injury, his second half was not so rosy. He was 3-7, 5.20 the second half finished the season 12-11 with a 4.03 ERA. When spring rolled around, he was besieged by questions about his obvious falloff.

In his first three starts he had a 1.80 earned run average over 9.2 innings with four walks and nine strikeouts. The large number of pitchers available made it necessary for him to work on the back field while potential candidates for the actual staff got the game starts in Camelback Park.

Facing the Cleveland AAA team yesterday (Tuesday), he worked six innings, allowing three hits, two of them home runs. He threw 83 pitches, 50 of them strikes, struck out three and walked one. He held catcher Carlos Santana, the Indians No. 1 prospect, who who was traded by the Dodgers to the Indians in the Casey Blake deal of 2008. Santana struck out and grounded out against Billingsley.

"My fastball felt great all day," said Billingsley. "My off-speed pitches weren't quite there the first few innings, which everyone noticed because they were both hit out of the park, but I got on top of the ball later in the game, and my curve and cutter were fine."

When asked if his second half slide could have been the delay result of the broken leg, resulting in the pulled hamstring, he said, "I just don't know. I do know I couldn't start working out until January."

He went on to say that he had tweaked his mechanics the second half in an attempt to find the problems. "I may have been analyzing things too much," he said. "I determined this spring to concentrate only on throwing strikes down in the zone."

"His delivery line is better, he's standing a little taller," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "He had been getting across his line, falling to the third-base side early, and it affected his line. He had to try to get the ball back across, and it flattened out. That left him with more work than he had to be doing."

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