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It's just one little bad preseason start for Billingsley, right?

April 3, 2010 |  3:53 pm

Billingsley_300 Let’s understand something right off: Chad Billingsley was having a great spring.

Not decent, not pretty good, but great.

He came into Saturday’s final preseason game with a 1.84 ERA, having not walked a batter in 14 2/3 innings. He looked a lot like the guy who went 9-4 with a 3.38 ERA to start last season and become an All-Star.

And then left the game having allowed six earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings, walking five and surrendering a grand slam to Kendry Morales. And looking way too much like the pitcher who went 3-7 with a 5.20 ERA after the All-Star break last season.

Any other pitcher, and you simply write off the bad start as just one of those preseason things.

With Billingsley, you take a breath. You can’t help but worry. Worry like a parent who’s let his teenager stay out till midnight for the first time. Of course it’s going to be OK, right?

Logic says, these things happen to anyone. Happen during the season, too. But having watched his struggles the second half last season, the tide rises to the worry level on Billingsley a lot quicker.

This is a guy who needs to be focused and confident. Start off the season feeling in control and ready to roll.

Not coming off his worst outing of the preseason. Not bringing uncertainties to the forefront when he’d worked all spring to bury them in the deep background. Not resembling anything fragile.

One little preseason game in an otherwise great spring. So why so worried?

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Chad Billingsley delivers a pitch against the Angels during Saturday's Freeway Series game. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times