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Billingsley proving health, quieting doubters


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chad Billingsley seems to have put that partially torn elbow ligament behind him, as much as a pitcher can with an injury so threatening.

He avoided Tommy John surgery last year by instead opting for two platelet-rich plasma injections and rest. Now three starts into his Spring Training, he insists the injury isn't an issue, and management is starting to believe.

"It seems like more and more as we go, when we came in we were kind of concerned after last year if it would hold up," manager Don Mattingly said after Billingsley threw 3 1/3 innings in Thursday's 11-11 tie with Texas, at one point retiring nine consecutive batters.

"To this point, there's been no mention of Chad by the medical [department]. If you didn't know anything had happened, does he look any different? The answer is no. It's really good news, the way he's bouncing back. Today he was really good."

If he stays healthy, Billingsley figures to slot into the starting rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett.

Billingsley isn't concerned if there are lingering doubts.

"It doesn't matter what [management] thinks. It's what I think, and I know how I feel," he said. "I'll be back out there again. I'm feeling good, throwing hard."

Billingsley said he incorporated the cutter Thursday into his pitch repertoire for the first time this spring, and he'll continue to stretch out until the last couple of exhibition starts, when he wants to "put it all together and be ready for the regular season."

Billingsley took a no-decision in a wild game that saw the Rangers take a 7-3 lead with a five-run fifth inning and extend the lead to 9-5, only for the Dodgers to rally late and tie the game in the bottom of the ninth with a three-run homer by Matt Angle off former Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom.

Angle, taken off the Major League roster last year, had two hits and four RBIs. He has only five at-bats this spring but is tied with Alex Castellanos for the team lead with five RBIs.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["spring_training" ] }
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