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03/29/09 3:48 PM ET

Billingsley on track for first start of '09

Dodgers right-hander feels no discomfort in simulated game

PHOENIX -- Chad Billingsley threw a 64-pitch simulated game Sunday without any discomfort in his right groin and said he has no concern about being ready for his first regular-season start in the Dodgers' third game of the season April 8.

"It felt normal. I threw everything. No problems," said Billingsley, who strained the groin in a game against the Angels on Monday. "I wasn't too worried about it. I threw some with maximum effort. I don't know if you guys heard me grunting. Really, I was jogging on the treadmill and it felt normal."

Billingsley pitched to teammates Casey Blake and Danny Ardoin. Manager Joe Torre said he was pleased with what he saw but reserved judgment on Billingsley until he pitches in an exhibition game Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

"It's not a game yet, but I feel a lot better watching today," Torre said. "He didn't have any concern. He said he felt great. He worked hard. Friday will tell me in a game."

Torre said Billingsley originally was scheduled to throw 45 pitches but felt well enough to extend it a fourth inning. The only part of the "simulated game" that simulates a game is the pitcher sitting down for five minutes after every 15 pitches and having to warm up again for the next inning.

Billingsley said the only problems he had were adapting to the damp mound on the practice field where the workout was held and adjusting to a neoprene compression sleeve he wore on his right thigh to keep the area warm and loose. He said he would not wear it in a game.

In other injury news, utility infielder Mark Loretta continues to recover from his right groin strain and said he hopes to return to game action by Wednesday or Thursday, probably in Minor League games where he can get additional at-bats.

Pitcher Claudio Vargas, shut down with a sore right elbow, said he was told by doctors that he has inflammation but no structural damage to the ligament and would "start throwing again probably next week." Vargas had been a fifth-starter candidate. He believes the injury was the result of a new slider grip.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.