Billingsley discusses his rehab progress

LOS ANGELES -- Right-hander Chad Billingsley (Tommy John surgery, April 2013) threw 30 pitches in a two-inning simulated game against teammates Jamie Romak and Chone Figgins on Thursday.

"It's been a long process, and I just got to keep working until I get back out there in a game," Billingsley said. "The arm is feeling really good right now, and I'm really happy with the way it has responded."

Manager Don Mattingly said the Dodgers "will see how he bounces back, then decide if there's another simulated game, or he goes out [to pitch rehab games in the Minor Leagues]."

Kemp's transition to left field continues

CIN@LAD: Kemp preparing for his move to left

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp started in left field for the second day in a row in Thursday's series opener against the Pirates at Dodger Stadium, with Carl Crawford on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle and Andre Ethier having taken over everyday duties in center.

Wednesday's series finale against the Reds marked the first time Kemp had played left field since he appeared there in eight games in 2006, his rookie year.

"I think he looked good out there last night," manager Don Mattingly said on Thursday. "I thought he looked comfortable out there. I'm sure he's not quite comfortable yet, but he looked comfortable."

Worth noting

• Catcher Drew Butera got Thursday night off after catching four games in a row, including Josh Beckett's no-hitter on Sunday. Butera is expected to be behind the plate Friday for Beckett's next start, against the Pirates' Francisco Liriano. Butera caught Liriano's no-hitter on May 3, 2011, when they were with the Twins.

• Outfielder Andre Ethier will visit Nightingale Middle School in Cypress Park at 7:30 a.m. PT on Friday, as part of a new partnership between the LA Fund For Public Education and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation in support of the School Fuel program.

The Dodgers have committed $200,000 to the program, which provides universal breakfast to nearly half a million students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The program includes classroom distribution of 24 million breakfast trays, and more than six million Dodgers milk cartons per month featuring Ethier, Carl Crawford, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu.