Chad Billingsley will pitch Sunday for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, the first of his five scheduled starts on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment.
Billingsley, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, last pitched in the major leagues on April 15 of last year.
Standing in the Dodgers clubhouse Friday before the team’s home opener, Billingsley said, “It felt like a year since I’d last been at the stadium. You almost forget how beautiful the stadium is.”
When the Dodgers departed spring training for their season-opening series in Australia, Billingsley remained in Arizona. He said he threw to hitters three times.
“It’s kind of nice to see that hitter in there after throwing bullpens for a few months,” he said. “It will be good to get out in a game situation and get a little bit of adrenaline going and getting back into the swing of things.”
Billingsley said that if he emerges from his start Sunday without any problems, he will pitch two games for triple-A Albuquerque, then two more for Rancho Cucamonga. He said he is scheduled to pitch every five days.
He said he hasn’t experienced any problems with his elbow.
“I’m kind of learning what’s normal and what’s not,” he said. “I’m not really sure how my arm’s supposed to feel. But everything, according to the trainers and doctor, is going well.”
As for when he expects to pitch in the major leagues, Billingsley said, “Whenever I feel I’m ready I’ll be back. Whenever they feel I’m ready too.”