Billingsley goes 6 in minor league game

Updated: March 23, 2010, 10:15 PM ET
Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chad Billingsley pitched six innings in a minor league game Tuesday, fine-tuning his mechanics and delivery two days ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers picking an Opening Day starter.

While the rest of the team took the day off, Billingsley threw 84 pitches against a squad of Cleveland Indians minor leaguers, including hard-hitting catcher Carlos Santana, who was sent down last week.

Billingsley is one of three right-handers vying to start Opening Day, along with Vicente Padilla and Hiroki Kuroda, who started last year's opener.

Manager Joe Torre has said he'll select the starter for the April 5 opener at Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Billingsley threw first-pitch strikes to the first three batters he faced. He gave up two home runs and handled consecutive put-outs in his final inning as assistant general manager Kim Ng looked on.

"My fastball was good all day," he said. "The first couple innings my off-speed stuff wasn't quite there. I came in and wanted to work on my mechanics and delivery. It seems to be coming along well."

Billingsley, a first-time All-Star last season, struggled in the second half, when his ERA ballooned to 5.20. He didn't pitch in the NL division series against St. Louis and made one appearance in long relief in the NLCS.

He has been focusing on correcting a flaw in his delivery this spring that caused him to fall to the third base side.

"It was a lot more work than he needed to be doing. It created more issues," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, adding that he was pleased with how Billingsley mixed in his changeup during the outing.

The Dodgers have a lot of sorting out to do with their pitching staff, including a fifth starter and whether they will carry 11 or 12 pitchers into the start of the season.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press