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."
Scully, Koufax highlight Dodgers' home opener
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers rolled out some of the biggest, most popular names in the franchise's rich history for their home opener Friday afternoon against the Giants.
Vin Scully, the legendary voice of the Dodgers, drew a roaring response when he was chauffeured onto the Dodger Stadium warning track in a convertible to "So Happy Together," the Turtles classic.
Another roar greeted Magic Johnson, part of the Dodgers' ownership group, when he escorted Scully to the mound for the ceremonies. The former Fordham first baseman/outfielder next was joined by Dodgers greats Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Rick Monday, Ron Cey, Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, Don Newcombe, Tommy Lasorda and the incomparable Sandy Koufax.
Koufax and Scully shared a warm embrace at home plate after the great lefty accepted the ceremonial first-pitch game ball from the iconic announcer.
Scully and Koufax were the only participants not wearing their home white jerseys.
"When I was at Fordham, way back when, I wore No. 17," Scully said.
Never shy about taking a microphone, Lasorda got the sellout crowd in the mood.
"To all you great Dodger fans, it's time for Dodger baseball!" Lasorda told the crowd, making the opening delivery.
It was a great day for the faithful -- and for lefties. Scully, Koufax and Lasorda are all southpaws.