CHICAGO — Hideo Nomo had the best bullpen session of his throwing program Friday and is scheduled to start Monday for triple-A Las Vegas.
"He was excellent," pitching coach Jim Colborn said. "In everything I use to grade pitchers, he got an 'A' in the bullpen.
"The pitches were sharp, the command was good, and he had good extension on his pitches. He looked really good in the bullpen."
But now comes a bigger test. The Dodgers have expressed optimism about Nomo, saying his arm strength appears to have increased, "but we don't know how that's going to translate when he's out there facing people with bats in their hands and livelihoods at stake," Manager Jim Tracy said. "That's what we have to find out."
Nomo, who threw about 50 pitches Friday, is expected to pitch as many as three innings in his first rehabilitation start.
If he is sharp in his first outing, Nomo will pitch as many as five innings Aug. 21, and then the Dodgers might activate him from the disabled list. Nomo went 3-10 with an 8.06 earned-run average in his first 14 starts.
"I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm rooting for him," Tracy said.
So, what should the Dodgers expect from left-hander Kazuhisa Ishii today?
"I can't answer that," Tracy said. "What I'm hopeful of is that he steps up and gives us a game like we've seen him give us in some situations where we really needed a guy to step up.
"That's what I'm hopeful, but I don't know. [Wrigley Field] is not a good ballpark to walk people in. It's never good to walk people, but there are certain ballparks where a base on balls is definitely not a good idea, especially with the wind blowing out."
The good news for the Dodgers is that Ishii could go either way, Tracy said. "He could go out there and throw a shutout," Tracy said. "If he is throwing strikes, and he has all his pitches with him, he could possibly do that."
Although it appears doubtful Brad Penny would return to make his next scheduled start Thursday against Atlanta, the team has not ruled out the possibility, Tracy said.
Tracy seemed to indicate team medical personnel were encouraged about Penny's right arm, but he added he did not know when Penny would resume throwing. Penny would need at least one bullpen session no later than Tuesday.
If the Dodgers put Penny on the disabled list retroactive to the last day he pitched, he could not start until Aug. 24 against Montreal.
"My preference is that he's 100%," Tracy said.
Edwin Jackson displayed improved mechanics in an 80-pitch bullpen session and is "getting real close" to beginning a rehabilitation assignment, physical therapist Pat Screnar said. The rookie right-hander is scheduled for another light session Sunday. He might start somewhere in the minors Tuesday or Wednesday.