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'Plenty of time.' Why the Dodgers aren't rushing Walker Buehler's comeback

Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

PHOENIX — Walker Buehler didn't reach the finish line of his rehab from Tommy John surgery last year. But he at least seemed to be charging down the final stretch.

Buehler began a throwing program before the end of last spring, about six months after his August 2022 elbow procedure. By the operation's anniversary date, he was already throwing bullpens and facing hitters in live batting practice.

When Buehler began a minor league rehab assignment in early September, pitching two perfect innings in Triple-A Oklahoma City, there was faint hope he might even return before season's end.

"We were kind of at the end of it," Buehler recalled of his rehab process, and how close he got to its completion last year.

The only problem?

"I just wasn't bouncing back great," Buehler said.

 

So, before he could take further steps, the two-time All-Star and former ace of the Dodgers rotation was shut down for the rest of the campaign.

And now, a couple weeks into this year's spring camp, his exact timetable to return remains unclear.

"I don't want to put pressure on the training staff or Walker," manager Dave Roberts said. "When he gets into the regular routine of facing hitters, extending [his outings], getting some length, then I think it will be more clear to project. But right now, I don't even know time to return."

It isn't an unexpected development.

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