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.
Lilly to rest after receiving injection in rib cage
LOS ANGELES -- Ted Lilly is not returning to the disabled list just yet.
Lilly received an injection in his right rib cage on Tuesday after experiencing discomfort during his start on Monday against the Rockies. The left-hander will not throw for two days and will then be re-evaluated.
Lilly allowed five runs on eight hits in three innings during Monday's 12-2 loss. The veteran said he felt tightness in his back and neck during the first inning.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said management didn't know Lilly was experiencing discomfort until after Monday's game. The manager would have preferred to know about Lilly's health in advance to allow the club to plan accordingly. The Dodgers used four relievers over five innings before second baseman Skip Schumaker pitched a scoreless ninth.
"That's fine that he feels it, but he's got to let somebody know," Mattingly said before Tuesday's game against the Rockies. "Then at least we know when we go into the game that we possibly should have a guy here that can go four or five innings. He can't just keep that to himself. He hasn't been getting any treatment for it. They've been working on his neck, but that's kind of an ongoing thing with Teddy."
Lilly's neck was an issue in 2012 and he began the season on the disabled list because of it. He returned and won his first five decisions, but injured his shoulder and required season-ending surgery. Lilly started this year on the disabled list and returned to pitch five innings last Wednesday against the Mets, allowing one run. He said he started to feel the neck on Thursday and again while warming up before Monday's start.
Mattingly said Lilly's rib and neck issues are not related, but added the lefty has experienced rib issues occasionally during the past year.
"The injection in the past has taken care of it," the manager said Tuesday night after the Dodgers beat the Rockies, 6-2. "He's got a couple days off and we'll see where he's at."
If Lilly is unable to make his scheduled start Saturday at San Francisco, Matt Magill is likely to replace him. In his Major League debut last Saturday, Magill allowed two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
"That's the logical thing for us to do," Mattingly said.
Kershaw placed on bereavement list after father's death
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was placed on the bereavement list on Monday, and on Tuesday it was revealed it was because of the death of his father in Texas.
Kershaw is expected to return to California in time to fly with the Dodgers to San Francisco on Thursday.
Kershaw, coming off a 12-strikeout win over Milwaukee, is scheduled to start Friday night against the Giants.
The Dodgers will need to make a roster move to activate Kershaw and might disable infielder Mark Ellis, who strained his right quad Friday night.
Crawford scratched from lineup with tight hamstring
LOS ANGELES -- Carl Crawford was scratched from Tuesday's lineup after taking batting practice, the result of tightness in his right hamstring.
"We knew going into the game that he was just a little bit tight," manager Don Mattingly said after the Dodgers beat the Rockies, 6-2. "We thought it was going to be something he was going to be good with. As he got out there it was something we didn't want to take a chance with. We're pretty precautionary with him. And with the day off coming up [Thursday] we'll see how he's feeling [Wednesday]. But we'll be careful with him."
Jerry Hairston replaced Crawford at the top of the order and in left field. Hairston was originally playing right field and hitting sixth, but shifted when Crawford was scratched. He went 3-for-5 with one RBI and two runs scored.
Andre Ethier was inserted into the lineup, hitting sixth and playing right field. Ethier went 1-for-3 with a double and one run scored.
Crawford is hitting .308 with four homers and six RBIs in 25 games. He went 1-for-3 in Monday's loss to the Rockies. The outfielder went 5-for-14 with three homers in the first four games of the Dodgers' current six-game homestand.
Dodgers recall Guerra, option Wall to Triple-A
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers recalled right-handed reliever Javy Guerra on Tuesday and optioned Josh Wall to Triple-A Albuquerque.
The move follows Monday night's disastrous 12-2 loss to the Rockies, when Wall was abused for seven runs on eight hits and 62 pitches in two innings. Wall followed Ted Lilly, who left the game after three innings with neck and back pain and was having an MRI Tuesday.
Guerra was the team closer when last season started, but he lost that job, suffered three injuries and required surgeries to his right knee and shoulder.
He did not make the Major League team out of Spring Training and was sent to Albuquerque for a starting role, not to turn him into a starter but to extend him into a multiple-inning long reliever. In four starts for the Isotopes, he was 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA and last pitched Friday.
Wall, who was recalled from Albuquerque April 15 after Shawn Tolleson was injured, made six appearances and had an ERA of 18.00.
Guerra is the 17th pitcher the Dodgers have had in uniform this month.
Dodgers ink Laffey to Minor League deal
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers, who had too many starting pitchers a couple of weeks ago, are in such a bind that they signed free agent left-hander Aaron Laffey to a Minor League deal Tuesday.
Laffey made the Mets on a Minor League contract out of Spring Training, but struggled to a 7.20 ERA in 10 innings of work. He was designated for assignment, claimed off waivers by Toronto and walked five in a 2 2/3-inning start for the Blue Jays before they designated him for assignment. Being designated for assignment twice allowed Laffey to elect free agency.
He's a seven-year Major League veteran with a 25-29 record and 4.45 ERA. He is expected to report to Triple-A Albuquerque.
The Dodgers currently have six pitchers on the disabled list -- Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Scott Elbert, Stephen Fife, Zack Greinke and Shawn Tolleson. Ted Lilly is likely to join them pending results of a Tuesday MRI on his neck.