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03/11/11 4:15 PM ET

Padilla plays long toss, eyes bullpen session

PHOENIX -- Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla played long toss Friday and hopes to be on the mound for a bullpen session in about 10 days.

Padilla, who had surgery on the entrapped radial nerve on his throwing arm Feb. 24, began throwing eight days after the procedure and said his forearm is pain-free. He's not sure when he will be ready to pitch in a game but is pleased with his progress.

"I'm good," he said. "I'm just going to keep doing what they tell me to do."

Last season, Padilla went 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA and made only 16 starts. He experienced similar forearm discomfort last Spring Training but pitched through it and was the Dodgers' Opening Day starter. The club signed him to a one-year, incentive-laden contract (with a $2 million base) for 2011. He estimates he has lost about 15 pounds since the end of last season.

The Dodgers could use the pitching depth. Right-handed pitcher Jon Garland, who was penciled in as the team's fifth starter, has a strained oblique muscle that is expected to sideline him from four to six weeks.

General manager Ned Colletti said the club will stay in-house, and manager Don Mattingly said that John Ely and non-roster invitee Tim Redding will take over Garland's Spring Training innings.

The Dodgers won't need a fifth starter until April 12.

Billingsley struggles, but feels good

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers are 5-10 in Cactus League play so far this spring but manager Don Mattingly remains pleased with his players' effort and hopes their work pays off when the season starts.

"Prepare, prepare, prepare," Mattingly said. "I know I say it all the time and it's become monotonous, but it's really as simple as that. You get guys ready for 162 [games] starting that day. You would like to win games, but you go back to the same mindset of where we are trying to go and what it takes to get there. It starts here."

On Friday, it was Chad Billingsley's turn to start, and the A's made him work. The right-hander was charged with four runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings in a 9-2 loss to Oakland at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. He also walked four A's.

"The past couple of starts, my curveball has not been where I wanted it to be, but I keep working it in," Billingsley said. "I'm trying to get good feel for it."

Billingsley said he fed the A's lineup a steady dose of cut fastballs, changeups and fastballs. He struggled to throw his offspeed pitches for strikes.

"Overall, I felt good with the way the ball was coming out of my hand," Billingsley said. "Third start, you are not going to come out of the gate with every single pitch. You go out there and you work on things to get ready for the season."

Strong ties to Japan leave Dodgers worried

PHOENIX -- Several Dodgers with strong ties to Japan were deeply concerned and personally touched when the earthquake hit the island on Friday.

"I was on the phone with a friend in Tokyo when the earthquake hit and he said, 'Oh, my God, that's the biggest earthquake I've ever felt.' My brother said the same thing," said Acey Kohrogi, the club's executive director of Asian operations and scouting. "The phone lines are clogged up going into Japan, but they seem to be making outgoing calls."

Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman, who managed for several years in Japan, was able to reach some of his friends on the island via Skype. He said he experienced three earthquakes while living in Japan but said the strongest was a 6.0 magnitude. Friday morning's earthquake measured 8.9.

"The second phone call I made was to Hawaii," said Hillman, who managed in Hawaii in 1995.

Hiroki Kuroda's wife and children live in Los Angeles. The pitcher said his extended family lives on the western side of the island and is fine. He tried unsuccessfully to reach his brother Friday morning but is optimistic that he is doing well.

"The Dodgers have a long history with Japan and we have deep concerns," Kohrogi said. "My family is OK, but we have a distant relative in the area that we haven't reached. ... The team that plays in Sendai was away playing exhibition games, which was fortunate. Our Japan scout is here in camp and his family is safe. We had been scouting in the area last year."

De La Rosa on track to make Sunday start

PHOENIX -- Dodgers pitching prospect Rubby De La Rosa feels fine after his 31-pitch bullpen session Thursday and is on track to start Sunday against the Cubs in Las Vegas.

De La Rosa, who was named last year's organization Pitcher of the Year, last pitched in a game March 3. He recently experienced slight tenderness in his pitching shoulder but said he is much better now.

"It's normal, feels good," he said. "I can't wait to get out there."

De La Rosa is not the only player on the mend. Hong-Chih Kuo will throw to hitters Saturday as part of his customized Spring Training workouts. He threw his first inning of an exhibition game on Wednesday.

Also, Lance Cormier has returned to camp after missing time because of the flu. Jon Link is still out because of the illness. He departed camp early Friday.

Additionally, infielder Juan Castro was out of camp Friday for birth of his baby.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. Ken Gurnick contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.