Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Walker Buehler is roughly one year removed from undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career, in addition to a right flexor tendon repair, and continues to have his sights set on returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation this season.
Buehler’s progression has reached the stage of facing batters in a simulated game setting, with his third session expected to take place Saturday.
The right-hander hoped to rejoin the Dodgers by September 1, which no longer appears feasible but getting activated at any point next month is nevertheless an accomplishment in its own right. The return from a second Tommy John procedure for most pitchers is closer to 14 months.
Buehler is comfortable returning ahead of schedule due to a more optimistic outlook following his latest surgery. “I think one weird thing about my surgery was it wasn’t necessarily another tear,” Buehler began.
“I had a kind of piece of bone from an old kind of injury that broke off and went into my ligament, so they had to cut that out. But nothing tore again, it wasn’t like I threw and it ripped out. So essentially, it wasn’t a full Tommy John.
“It was a reconstruction was all medically what they would say, but I don’t think it technically was as detrimental to like the long-term health of my elbow.
“So I guess it’s kind of reflected in the fact that most Tommy John’s are 14-18 month rehabs and some guys, their first Tommy John they’re waiting 14-18 months and I feel very comfortable trying to come back in 12 months on my second one.
“So I guess the stuff behind the scenes or the way it’s been explained to me, it kind of gives me some comfort in trying to do that.”
Buehler further revealed his second Tommy John operation was simpler than the first one, which isn’t always the case for pitchers. “I mean, some crazy [expletive] happens in our elbows, in our shoulders and whatever,” Buehler said.
“So everybody’s different and whatnot, but I don’t think anyone’s explained exactly what happened to them exactly like mine and whatnot.
“But calcium deposits, all that kind of stuff happens, and luckily mine, I guess, was pretty simple for (Dr. Neal) ElAttrache to clean out of there and kind of get it the way he wanted it. He did the first one, and it worked out pretty good for me, so I feel good about it.”
Buehler went 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 12 starts prior to missing the remainder of the 2022 season. He faces a final year of salary arbitration before potentially becoming a free agent after the 2024 season.
Dave Roberts compares Bobby Miller to Walker Buehler
Bobby Miller put up historic numbers through his first four MLB starts, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sees similarities between he and when Walker Buehler began to find his footing in 2018.
After an uneven first season in the Majors, Buehler enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2018 that saw him go 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 0.96 WHIP and 9.9 strikeouts per nine over 137.1 innings pitched in 24 games (23 starts).
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