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Chad Billingsley throws curves in minor league outing

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Billingsley is driving back to Los Angeles Friday night, and will rejoin his teammates in Anaheim on Saturday.

Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

Chad Billingsley threw 96 pitches in six innings against Brewers Triple-A hitters in a minor league game in Arizona on Friday night. Billingsley did not allow a run in his first six innings, with six strikeouts and four hits and one walk allowed. He pitched to one batter in the seventh inning and hit him, and he came around to score for the only run charged against Billingsley.

He was able to throw the curve ball with no problems to his right index fingernail, and will rejoin the Dodgers in Anaheim on Saturday.

Manager Don Mattingly said Billingsley remains in his starting rotation, but it will just be a matter of when. The Dodgers don't technically need a fifth starter until Apr. 13, their 11th game of the season. But Billingsley could be mixed into the rotation earlier, perhaps as early as Apr. 7.

"There are a couple of issues with Bills. Making sure he's ready is one. The nail is one. But the biggest issue is any kind of small changes messing with that elbow," Mattingly said. "That's our biggest concern with him, making sure we're not putting him in a bad spot."

It seems a foregone conclusion that Billingsley will be placed on the disabled list retroactive to Mar. 22, which would mean his earliest activation date is Apr. 6. That would give the Dodgers an extra roster spot for between four and 10 games, though Mattingly wouldn't commit to that plan of action on Friday.