LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley's recovery from Tommy John elbow reconstruction has gone almost too well, if that's possible.
Billingsley, who had the operation on his right elbow last April 24, will begin a Minor League rehab assignment with a Sunday start for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. He said he has five starts planned. Without a setback, he could be back by early May.
"I feel good, I'm progressing well and hopefully it stays that way," said Billingsley. "Getting close. Right now I'm progressing with each start. I'm using this as a Spring Training, fine-tuning mechanics and working on my pitches. When I feel ready and they feel I'm ready, I'll be back. Guys have this surgery all the time. Nothing new."
Billingsley said he threw live batting practice at the team's Arizona complex three times leading up to Sunday's start, even facing Matt Kemp a couple of times while he prepped for his return.
"It was nice to see hitters and not throw bullpens," he said. "It's good to get in game situations, a little adrenaline and get back in the swing of things."
Billingsley said he threw a bullpen session on Thursday's off-day.
"It felt like a year since I've been here," he said. "I almost forgot how beautiful this park is, being in Arizona for almost a year. It's nice to get back with the team."
Ken Gurnick and Lyle Spencer are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.