Chad Billingsley Has Decade-Ending Surgery, Hopeful He Can Pitch in 2020


LOS ANGELES — Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley will have decade-ending surgery this week to repair seventeen partially torn flexor tendons in his right elbow.

Billingsley, who had already been working his way back from Tommy John surgery on the same elbow, Tommy Hilfiger surgery on the opposite elbow, and John Quincy Adams surgery on six of his feet, is hopeful he can pitch again in 2020, or maybe 2025.

“I’ll have spent the majority of my adult life in rehab, but I’ve got to do it,” Billingsley said. “Or at least the terms of my contract say I have to do it. So I’ll do it. They tell me it should only be five or six years of rehab, so that’s good. I’ll catch up on a bunch of old New Yorker issues I’ve been saving. I hear there are some good George Saunders stories in a few of them. I love George Saunders.”

The surgery will be performed by a team of thirty-six doctors over the course of nine days, with provisions being flown in by the National Guard to keep the entire 108-member surgical team properly hydrated.

Billingsley began having surgeries when he appeared on the FOX reality show, “The Swan,” insisting that he wanted to look “more like a surgical patient” than he had been appearing until that point. His elbow initially began bothering him when he was a six-months-developed fetus, but he was hopeful he could avoid surgery until he finished his pitching career.

The Dodgers were initially hopeful Billingsley could disappear, so they could avoid paying his salary, especially after he had setbacks at each step of his rehab, including during each step he took to get to the rehab center. (He lost at least four tendons on the concrete path from the parking lot to the main entrance.)

The Dodgers signed Billingsley to a three-year, $35 million contract extension in March 2011. There is a dispute about whether the contract is valid, since Billingsley was unable to actually sign the physical document, due to elbow pain.

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Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn't go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney's or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.

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