Chad Billingsley began the season on the disabled list, but he won't be sidelined for too long. The right-hander will start on a rehab assignment for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday night, and is in line to return to the Dodgers' rotation with a Apr. 10 start in San Diego against the Padres at Petco Park.
The Class-A Quakes open their season Thursday night against Lake Elsinore with a 7:05 p.m. PT game at The Epicenter.
A right index finger contusion landed Billingsley on the disabled list, retroactive to Mar. 22. The injury carried a brief fear of Billingsley losing his nail, which prevented him from throwing a curve ball for 12 days. After throwing curves in a bullpen session on Mar. 25, he threw more in a minor league start against Brewers Triple-A hitters in Phoenix on Mar. 29.
"It wasn't as consistent as I wanted it to be, but it was alright," Billingsley said. "For not throwing it for two weeks, it felt pretty good. I just wanted to get a better feel for it."
Because of off days on Apr. 4 and Apr. 8, the Dodgers don't technically need a fifth starter until Apr. 13. Manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt wanted Billingsley to get better command of the curve before returning to the rotation, but it appears Billingsley has progressed enough that one more start is all that is needed before rejoining the Dodgers.
"We feel like he'll be ready by the 10th," Mattingly said Monday. "Obviously he's on the DL right now, but we're thinking he'll be ready to slide in there."
Starting Billingsley on Apr. 10 gives the entire starting five an extra day of rest one time through the rotation, beginning with Josh Beckett's start on Apr. 9 in the series opener in San Diego.