Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley to throw Saturday, confident he can make first regular season start.

Chad Billingsley

Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley confirmed that he’ll pitch in a minor-league game Saturday at Camelback Ranch.

Billingsley bruised the index finger on his pitching hand six days ago in a bunting drill but came back to throw a pain-free bullpen session Wednesday. His last Cactus League start was March 7 against the Texas Rangers. His last start of any sort came in a five-inning simulated game against minor leaguers on March 13, when Billingsley threw 78 pitches.

This time, he’ll be allowed to throw 85 to 90 pitches by his own estimate. Billingsley thinks he’ll be on track to have enough arm strength to start April 2 against the San Francisco Giants as planned.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Saturday I’ll be at 90 pitches. My next start [March 28] they’ll give us two or three innings. Then I can be at 100 (pitches) in my next start.”

Billingsley still has one hurdle to clear to be at optimal health.

The finger, he said, “is still a little tender. I’m having trouble throwing curveballs, but that’s about it. … I spike my curveball, so that’s why.”

In a “spiked” grip, the pitcher initially places his middle finger on top of the ball, then twists the ball over his middle finger using the index finger as a guide.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.