LOS ANGELES -- Jonathan Broxton continued on his road to recovery Friday by throwing a simulated game and Kenley Jansen is about to be activated, but fellow reliever Vicente Padilla is apparently done for the year after undergoing microsurgery Thursday to fuse vertebrae in his neck.
Broxton, the incumbent closer who has been on the disabled list since May 4 with a bruised right elbow, threw about 25 pitches to Jamey Carroll and Trent Oeltjen in a controlled setting, and his next step will be a Minor League rehab assignment. He's on track to return to the Dodgers by the end of the month.
"That's the second one for him in a few days, and the next step for him is to go out," said manager Don Mattingly. "He needs to face guys in game competition. We want to make sure he comes out of this OK. It's hard to tell much in this kind of game with no energy. Guys don't really want to be in there. This is just to see where the ball is going and how it's coming out."
Jansen has been on a Minor League rehab assignment at Double-A Chattanooga, and Mattingly said he could return by Saturday.
As for Padilla, the Dodgers aren't expecting him back this year. The Dodgers aren't even aware of another pitcher to return from the fusing of vertebrae in the neck. But Padilla was convinced it would be the only way he could pitch.
There's not much new on the condition of disabled starter Jon Garland, who is out with an unspecified shoulder condition that sounds like a torn labrum. He was scheduled to be examined Friday. He has been on the disabled list since June 2 and the Dodgers knew something like this might happen, because they wrote into his contract that a 2012 option for $8 million would not vest if he was on the disabled list in September with an injury to his right arm.
"He has some kind of damage, and it's not new damage," said Mattingly. "He's been able to pop back quick in the past, but not this time."
Third baseman Casey Blake was out of Friday's starting lineup for a sixth consecutive game with arthritis in his neck. He has improved with a cortisone shot, but with each day, a third stint this year on the disabled list becomes an increasing possibility.
"He's better, but he still feels a little something," said Mattingly. "Right now, nobody is talking about [the disabled list]."
Kuo finishes rehab assignment, ready to return
LOS ANGELES -- Hong-Chih Kuo, the reliever affectionately dubbed "cockroach" by Dodgers trainers because he keeps coming back, is about to try it again.
On the disabled list since May 10 and willing to admit it was because of an anxiety disorder, Kuo has completed a Minor League rehab assignment by throwing in back-to-back games and Friday proclaimed himself ready for the big leagues.
"Yeah, I'm ready," Kuo said. "The team has treated me good, and I've taken my time and I think I'm ready."
Kuo has been wowing club officials with his velocity and command in both bullpen sessions and Minor League games. Manager Don Mattingly said Kuo will likely be activated Sunday.
"He's got a good look in his eye. He looks happy," Mattingly said. "The ball is coming out of his hand looking good."
Mattingly said he's not been told of any restrictions on Kuo's usage other than the normal caution that comes with his four elbow operations, but Mattingly also said he's likely to use Kuo immediately in closer situations.
Kuo said he has spoken to counselors about the anxiety that has caused repeated cases of the yips, or the inability to make competitive pitches.
"I have some issues. Everybody has issues," he said. "I'm OK right now. I'm ready. I'm more excited than nervous, and that's a good sign."
Mattingly: Billingsley needs to adjust
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Friday he was planning to have a meeting with starting pitcher Chad Billingsley to discuss his recent struggles.
Billingsley has an 11.20 ERA in three June starts, allowing 30 hits in 13 2/3 innings and going no longer than five innings in any of the starts. Overall, he's 5-6 with a 4.65 ERA after allowing the Reds seven runs in four innings Wednesday.
"He's left too many balls over the plate," said Mattingly. "For me, his stuff is too good. The other day, he was just firing. On days when you don't have your best stuff, you have to find a way to win. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. To me, you've got to make adjustments. That's what I didn't like. He was just firing, firing."
Mattingly said he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt would meet with Billingsley, as predecessor Joe Torre did on occasion during a Billingsley slump. Mattingly rejected the suggestion that the three-year contract extension Billingsley signed at the end of Spring Training has anything to do with his problems.
"I don't think so at all," Mattingly said. "When he struggles, he goes harder. Sometimes when you struggle, you have to go different. He goes harder, faster instead of backing off, slowing down, changing the pattern.
"What I was upset about the other day -- everything was hard and around the same speed. You've got to give them a different look when it's not working and you keep doing it. He's almost trying too hard at some point. For me, less physical and a little more pitching. I'm not a pitching coach, but I know, having scouted pitchers, when the ball comes through the same window at the same speed, it's too easy for the hitters."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.