As the Los Angeles Dodgers look to get healthy in their starting rotation, Walker Buehler posted a video of his first bullpen session since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.
Buehler had progressed to throwing off a mound last month but those entailed the catcher still standing to receive throws. He set a June goal of throwing more traditional bullpen sessions amid an attempt to return by September 1 of this season.
The Dodgers absorbed a significant loss last season when it was determined Buehler needed a right flexor tendon repair and second Tommy John surgery.
Prior to having the operation on August 23, 2022, the Dodgers placed Buehler on the 15-day injured list June 11 due to a right flexor tendon strain. Buehler said the pain he felt was different from previous discomfort leading up to repairing the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow before a first Tommy John surgery, and an MRI initially validated that belief.
But Buehler dealt with lingering discomfort in his right elbow and the Dodgers announced on August 15 he would undergo season-ending surgery. It wasn’t until Dr. Neal ElAttrache was performing the operation that it was determined Buehler needed Tommy John for a second time.
He nevertheless has held out hope since that point of pitching in 2023.
“But I want to come up at a certain pitch count and things like that to where me being here is not a hindrance,” Buehler said in May. So yeah, things are good so far. And it’s a long deal, but we’re two-thirds of the way, I guess.
“I feel really good and some of the trainers, I guess, want me to dial it back a little bit. But that’s just not how I operate. So yeah, things are good. I don’t think anything has happened that would tell me like that’s not an achievable goal.”
Buehler went 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP across 12 starts prior to missing the remainder of the 2022 season.
What are next steps for Walker Buehler to return?
With Buehler now throwing bullpen sessions, he presumably would need to steadily increase the intensity and pitch count with them over the next several weeks if returning in 2023 were to remain a possibility.
From there the Dodgers would send Buehler out on a rehab assignment that likely would be at least one month long. The odds may not be favorable, but Buehler to this point has navigated the recovery process without any setbacks.
“Obviously, we’ve got a lot of talented players and a really good team, and I’m going to try and contribute any way I can,” he said.
“But for me, being a starting pitcher is my goal and the way that I think I can provide the most value. So hopefully, everything’s good and my stuff’s good and I can get people out again, and then hopefully I can make some starts.”
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