Could Walker Buehler return to the Dodgers this year? thought so


Los Angeles – Walker Buhler Find ways to pass the time. He went to the Kentucky Derby. He hangs out with his wife and dogs. He plays golf. tweet To combat boredom and monotony. But what he really wants is the field.

The 28-year-old All-Star holds hope that this year is still possible, as unlikely as it seemed when he underwent a second Tommy John surgery last August.

Buehler has set a personal goal to return to Dodgers As a start by September 1st, barely 12 months after undergoing a UCL reconstruction and flexor tendon repair.

“I don’t think anything that has happened would tell me that this is not an achievable goal,” Buehler said.

Manager Dave Roberts appreciated Buehler’s confidence, even if he did not express the same level of optimism, calling the September 1 comeback “very aggressive”.

I mean, it’s hard to bet against this guy, but 9/1 isn’t what I’ve been hearing, Roberts said. I’m glad he feels that way. That’s a good thing.

On Tuesday, Buehler was at Dodger Stadium throwing a stand-up cart. The next advance is to throw the catcher downhill into his stance, which Buehler hopes to achieve in about three weeks.

If Buehler’s September goal is a realistic possibility, it would be a significant addition to the stretch a month after the baseball trade deadline.

“Some coaches kind of want me to call him back a little bit, but that’s just not how I work,” Buehler said.

At the time Buehler had the procedure, he was trying to find his mechanic. Can handle a heavy workload. In 2021, Buehler went 16-4 with a career-best 2.47 ERA in his second All-Star season. He led the majors with 33 starts and surpassed 200 points for the first time in his career.

In October of that year, he made his short break for the first time. The right-handed clutcher, who built his reputation on previous successes in the playoffs, allowed four runs in four innings while playing on three days rest in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in a 4-2 loss to Brave that knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs.

Buehler was hoping to start faster in 2022, starting his off-season throwing program earlier than usual. There were occasional moments of brilliance, including the first shutout in his six-year career, but for the most part the past year has been a battle. His usually dominant seamstress lacked a breath of life, his strike rate dropped and he finished his season with a 4.02 ERA after 12 starts.

Initially, Buehler was placed on the IL to rest a flexor strain. Since he knew he would likely be out at 10-12 weeks anyway, he also opted to undergo surgery to remove a bone spur on his troublesome elbow. But his plans to return before the end of the season were thwarted when he felt a sharp elbow.

Ultimately, Dr. Neil Turks needed to perform a second Tommy John surgery on Buehler, who also had the procedure shortly after the Dodgers drafted him in 2015. Buehler said Tommy John’s latest recovery is easier after she had it before.

“First, I had probably the best surgeon in the world do my elbow twice,” Buehler said. The day I had the surgery [in August]He told me it was one of the best surgeries he’s ever had. Maybe it was just him trying to make me feel better, but I really took it to heart. I feel good about it and trust Dr. Al-Atrash with anything.”

This is important, given that this Tommy John action was different than most.

“I had kind of a piece of bone from an old kind of injury that broke off and got caught in my ligament, so they had to cut it out, but nothing was torn back,” Buehler said. “It wasn’t like I threw up and broke up. It was a complete Tommy John, it was a rebuild, it was all they would say was medical, but I don’t think technically it was detrimental to the long-term health of my elbow. So, I think it kind of reverses.” In fact, most Tommy Jones are in rehab from 14 to 18 months.”

Buehler, meanwhile, feels comfortable trying to return in 12 months.

“I think the things behind the scenes, or the way they’ve been explained to me, kind of give me some comfort in trying to do that,” he said.

He finds hope in others who are back in formation after his second Tommy John surgery. As examples, he indicated Jameson Tellon And Nathan Ivaldiwho entered Wednesday night in a 28 2/3 scoreless innings series.

While Buehler is scrambling to try to come back this year, he’s doing so with about 12 pounds, hoping the extra weight will help him stay healthy. Instead of focusing on speed during his rehab, he’s focusing on his mechanics, trying to replicate how he felt in 2021.

“It was kind of a weird warning,” Buehler said, “because in ’22 I never felt right.”

He made it clear that he would only come back if he felt he was putting his team and himself in good stead. He does not want to jeopardize the 2024 season by rushing back.

But for now, he is holding out hope.

“I think September 1 is still the goal for me,” Buehler said. “Things are good so far.”

Rowan Kavner Covers the Dodgers and the NL West for FOX Sports. He was previously the Dodgers’ editor for digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @tweet.

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