Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training Notes: February 26th, 2012

Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles took a look at the mechanical changes that Chad Billingsley has been making.

It is along those lines that Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley is attempting a change to his mechanics this spring. It is a small thing, really, but the hope is that over time, it will make a big difference in Billingsley’s results.

“I’m just working hard at smoothing out my leg kick,” Billingsley says. “When my foot gets out away from my body like that, my timing has to be just right.”

After throwing his second bullpen session of spring training last week, Billingsley spent several minutes talking with Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who at one point could be observed manually adjusting Billingsley’s front foot in midair while Billingsley stood frozen at the apex of his delivery.

Everybody has been trying to make this out to be a minor adjustment, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true for everybody.

I’ve had teammates and students who have tried to eliminate a flick of the ankle or cuffing a ball, and to say it was difficult for them would be an understatement.

Simply put, breaking a habit can be extremely hard, and it can affect you mentally for a while until you feel comfortable because you’re thinking more about the habit you’re trying to break than trying to pitch.

Eliminating a part of his leg motion that he’s been doing for years now is a significant adjustment to go through.

This is what spring training is for, obviously, to iron out little things. But this is a fairly big change for Billingsley, who is trying to stop kicking his front leg out during his delivery — which often results in his body getting ahead of his arm and sometimes allows gravity and momentum to affect his motion — and start keeping that leg underneath his body.

“I don’t know if it’s major,” Billingsley said. “I’m just working hard at smoothing out my leg kick. When my foot gets out away from my body like that, my timing has to be just right. If it’s not, then I start drifting toward the third-base side and stepping across my body when I deliver the pitch.”

And that results in the pitch being off line, maybe no more than an inch or so — but in the big leagues, that can be the difference in a game. Billingsley is hoping this adjustment will allow him to stay on line more often, giving him a little more margin for error with the rest of his delivery because his timing will be right and his momentum won’t cause him to fall off to one side of the mound.

“You can’t be perfect all the time, even though that is what you strive for,” Billingsley said. “There are going to be times when I’m still going to be too quick (with his body). But this should allow me to be more consistent.”

Great quotes gathered by Tony.

Billingsley’s lower half has always been an issue, mechanically. I explored the leg kick itself previously and now it’s his from the knee down.


Don Mattingly likes what he sees in Juan Uribe!

Just like he did last year.

With third baseman Juan Uribe headed to San Francisco for a Monday civil trial, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Sunday he wasn’t worried if Uribe missed a day or two of practice because “I thought he looked good” when he reported Friday.

And how did Mattingly think Uribe looked a year ago, prior to the worst season of his life?

“Yeah, he seemed good last year, too.”


Mattingly also admits Andre Ethier has always been sort of a dick.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he wasn’t alarmed over the terse and tense interview right fielder Andre Ethier gave Saturday in his first day in camp.

“He seems like himself, really,” said Mattingly. “That’s Dre. He always wants to do well. He’s always angry. That’s him, that’s the way he plays on the field. Off the field, he’s one of the easiest guys to get along with. He’s a pleasant guy. Some guys play with an edge that they have to have to play. Then there’s Rickey [Henderson]; he was happy-go-lucky, talking to people in the stands and tearing it up.”

This was off the field though.

Just saying.

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