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Chad Billingsley continues to progress in rehab

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A return to the Dodgers in early May isn't out of the realm of possibility.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE -- The Dodgers needed to make a corresponding roster move to make room for new Cuban infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena, and the move they didn't make is a positive sign for Chad Billingsley, who continues to progress from Tommy John surgery last April.

The Dodgers designated infielder Justin Sellers for assignment to make room for Arruebarrena, but they could have placed Chad Billingsley on the 60-day disabled list. The Dodgers would have been allowed to backdate the DL stint to March 19, which means Billingsley would not have been eligible to pitch for them until May 18 at the earliest.

"We're not prepared yet to put a timetable exceeding 60 days for Chad," said general manager Ned Colletti.

Billingsley threw another bullpen session on Saturday, and said his arm still feels as good as it did coming in to camp. He is still limited to throwing no faster than 85 mph, but those restrictions will likely be relaxed soon and Billingsley will be allowed to throw curve balls as early as next week.

Billingsley said he isn't concerned much with his return timetable, but rather that he continue to follow his current rehab path.

"I'm not really worried about it too much. I'm not trying to rush back. If my arm's not feeling right I'll tell them," Billingsley said. "I'll make sure I'm healthy, and no setbacks is the main thing."

When the team leaves for Australia on March 16, Billingsley will remain in Arizona to continue his rehab. By then he should be throwing live batting practice, and will be able to pitch in minor league games.

He plans to begin a minor league rehab assignment once the season opens in early April. Even if he needs five minor league starts, that earmarks a major league return for Billingsley in early May, which explains why he wasn't placed on the 60-day DL.

But since that is still more than two months away, patience might be the best virtue here.

"They'll know when I'm ready, and I'll let them know when I'm ready," Billingsley said. "And that's when I can step back out on the big league mound and get that adrenalin flowing again."