LOS ANGELES -- Chad Billingsley, his right arm in a sling six days after Tommy John elbow reconstruction, said Tuesday he's optimistic he'll be healthy and on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster in 2014.
"They say that's very, very doable," said Billingsley. "Cap [teammate Chris Capuano] did it in 11 months, some guys before that. You can't do it too quick and have a setback, but it's very doable."
Billingsley tried to avoid surgery altogether. He originally suffered a partially torn ligament last August, but opted for several platelet-rich plasma injections instead of surgery. The cutting-edge treatment got him throwing 93 mph by November, felt "awesome" through Spring Training and Billingsley believed he was healed.
He opened the regular season on the disabled list because of a bruised right index finger, but said his elbow was fine until after his second start, when it "didn't feel right." He cut short a bullpen session in Baltimore, flew back to Los Angeles for an exam and got the bad news from surgeon Neal ElAttrache.
"Awe, crud," was Billingsley's response to the doctor, or something like that.
But he said he has no regrets over not having surgery immediately.
"I would do it again," he said. "If I had surgery at the end of August, I'd still miss all this year. Or in the winter or spring, the first month, I'd still miss all year and still be ready at the beginning of 2014."
Billingsley said the cast comes off next week and will be replaced by a brace. While speaking to reporters, he was watching fellow pitchers going through pregame fielding practice, probably the most tedious chore for a pitcher other than the one Billingsley will be doing for the next year.
"I would like to be out there doing that," he said.