Billingsley goes to DL with groin injury

CINCINNATI -- Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday night's game with the Cincinnati Reds because of a strained right groin.

Billingsley felt something in his groin in the final inning of his most recent start on Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels. Billingsley underwent an MRI on Sunday morning that showed no structural damage, after which Billingsley, trainer Stan Conte and manager Joe Torre said they were confident Billingsley would be able to make his next scheduled start on Thursday against Cincinnati.

But Billingsley felt tightness in the groin when he tried to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, so the decision was made to play it safe and give him time to recover.

"It's his push-off leg,'' Conte said. "Anytime a pitcher has tightness on that side, it is very easy to try to compensate for it and risk creating bigger problems. So we just determined that the best scenario was a standing eight count. He obviously didn't want to go on the DL. He felt he could pitch, but we thought it was safest to do it this way. If he is better quicker than he is ready to come off the DL, then he can just yell at us and be super ready for his next start.''

The move was made retroactive to Saturday, meaning Billingsley will be eligible for activation on June 27, the final day of the Dodgers' three-game series with the New York Yankees at Dodger Stadium.

There was no immediate word as to whom the Dodgers planned to promote from the minor leagues to take Billingsley's roster spot, but Torre did say it would be a reliever because he plans for Vicente Padilla to return from the DL in time to rejoin the rotation on Saturday against the Boston Red Sox.

John Ely will now start Thursday's series finale with the Reds. He will be followed by Carlos Monasterios on Friday against Boston and Padilla on Saturday.

Before Billingsley's injury, Monasterios was expected to return to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Padilla.

The most likely candidate for a callup is probably Travis Schlichting, who had a brief big league stint from May 30 to June 3 during which he made one appearance, pitching four shutout innings in a 14-inning win over Arizona on June 2.

It is also possible the Dodgers could dip all the way to their Double-A Chattanooga affiliate, where converted catcher Kenley Jansen, who is on the 40-man roster, has a combined 1.39 ERA in 21 total appearances this season for the Lookouts and Class-A Inland Empire, where he began the season. Jansen, 22, who routinely hits the mid-90s with his fastball, has allowed just five earned runs over 32 1/3 innings and has struck out 51 batters while walking only 16.

However, the Dodgers do have an open spot on their 40-man roster, so they could purchase the contract of veteran right-hander Seth Etherton, who is 2-0 with a 3.25 ERA in what are basically six starts for Albuquerque (he did have one 'relief appearance' when he entered in the second inning after someone else's one-inning rehabilitation start). Etherton had back-to-back starts May 27 and June 1 in which he pitched seven shutout innings each time.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.