Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley announced Monday that he has elected to have season-ending surgery on his right elbow. It was announced Friday that surgery was an option that both Billingsley and team doctors were considering for a partial tear of the flexor tendon in his right elbow. He will now have that surgery next week.
“I’m flustered,” said Billingsley about having his second surgery in as many years. “This is not the way I wanted to spend two years of my life.”
Billingsley had Tommy John surgery in April of 2013 and has twice gone out on rehab assignments in 2014. In each of his rehab starts, Billingsley was shut down due to lingering pain in the elbow.
The flexor tendon works alongside the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. The UCL is the ligament that causes Tommy John surgery when it tears. When the UCL wears down or tears, the flexor tendon has to work harder to pick up the slack.
It’s hard to say, but the second surgery might have been avoided if Billingsley opted for the Tommy John surgery in August of 2012 instead of having a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection. The PRP treatment is designed to help in the healing of tendons or ligaments without resorting to surgery. The added strain on Billingsley’s flexor tendon would have been saved from August 2012 to April 2013. But there is no way of being certain on that and the situation can’t be changed now.
The good news is that the repaired ulnar collateral ligament is intact, meaning surgery won’t keep him out of next season also. The expected timetable to resume throwing is three months and about five to six months before he gets back on a mound. The plan is to be ready for spring training, although, it’s yet to be determined if that will be with the Dodgers.
Billingsley, who will be 30 in July, is in the final guaranteed year of a three-year, $35 million contract that includes a $3 million buyout or a $14 million salary for next season.
“I’m really not worried about that,” said Billingsley on his contract situation. “I’m worried about being healthy.”