Billingsley breaks leg in fall on ice
Dodgers ace expected to be ready for '09 season
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley suffered a broken left fibula Friday night when he slipped on ice in front of his home in Reading, Pa.Billingsley, 24, sustained a spiral fracture of the fibula, the smaller of the two bones in the shin, according to the Dodgers. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Paul Neuman, after consulting with Dodgers surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, inserted a plate in an operation Saturday to allow for the fracture to heal. Billingsley's landing leg will be in a cast for two weeks. The Dodgers reported that the surgery went as planned and the club expects Billingsley to be healed and available to begin throwing bullpen sessions at the beginning of Spring Training and to be ready for the 2009 season. Former Dodgers pitcher Dave Stewart, Billingsley's agent, spoke by phone with the pitcher before and after the operation.
"He said they had their first snow of the year last night and he came out the front door and just slipped," Stewart said. "He was bummed at first when they told him it was broken. But after the surgery, he was fine.
"The doctors said it turned out to be much better than they originally thought, because they thought it might have been really bad. After the surgery, Chad felt well enough to watch his favorite college football team, Notre Dame. But the way that went [a one-point loss to Syracuse], I told him he should let the medication set in and go to sleep. He laughed."
Billingsley is expected to be released from the hospital Sunday.
It is not known if Billingsley's injury will impact the Dodgers' offseason restocking plans. They already have suffered free-agent departures of pitchers Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Greg Maddux, Chan Ho Park, Joe Beimel and Jason Johnson. The only pitcher in the Dodgers' starting rotation for the entire 2008 season that is still on the roster and healthy is Hiroki Kuroda.With Brad Penny injured most of the second half of the season, Billingsley stepped up to lead the starters with 16 wins, a 3.14 ERA (seventh in the league) and 201 strikeouts (fifth in the league) and was second with 200 2/3 innings pitched. The first-round pick in 2003 began the season 0-4, but over his final 12 starts of the regular season went 7-1 with a 2.93 ERA. The playoffs were a different story. Billingsley won Game 2 of the National League Division Series in Chicago, allowing one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. But against the Phillies in the National League Championship Series, he was the loser in Games 2 and 5, allowing 10 runs in five innings. He also came under fire for not retaliating in Game 2 after Phillies pitcher Brett Myers threw inside to several Dodgers batters.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.