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    Dodgers’ Walker Buehler looking forward to return from Tommy John surgery
    • May 4, 2024

    LOS ANGELES — After nearly two years away, a major surgery that repaired two parts of his elbow and countless hours of rehab, Walker Buehler craves one thing the most as he gets set to take a major league mound again on Monday.

    Success and adulation can wait. What Buehler yearns to feel again is the jolt of energy he gets from pitching at the highest level.

    That is expected to come, first from the home crowd when he faces the Miami Marlins. He wants to square off against the best players and bask in the rush. And he can’t wait to put all that responsibility on his shoulders once again.

    “An entire organization’s success on that day relies on you so yeah, that’s probably the thing I miss the most,” Buehler said Friday.

    Buehler competitive juices flow freely, in complete contrast to his laid-back style off the field.

    “To be completely frank with you, there is not a whole lot of that (adrenaline) for me down there; I wish there was,” Buehler said of recent minor league rehab starts. “I wish it was easier for me to get going and I wish it didn’t sound so (expletive) to say that. But I think getting the adrenaline of pitching in the big leagues is something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.”

    A two-time All-Star, who finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2021, Buehler hasn’t pitched since June of 2022.

    Following a mediocre stretch of starts, Buehler was diagnosed with a major elbow injury. The subsequent surgery showed just how bad it was when he not only had his ulnar collateral ligament replaced but he had his forearm tendon repaired as well.

    Buehler tried to come back late last season, scuttled those plans, then was unable to join the Opening Day roster. The Dodgers said there was no setback, claiming they wanted to play it safe after Buehler’s second Tommy John surgery.

    “Yeah, it’s been a long time and a long process but I finally put together some things at Triple-A and I think we all felt pretty comfortable with Monday being the date,” Buehler said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

    In five starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City and one with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, Buehler went 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA. He had 20 strikeouts and nine walks in 21⅔ innings, overcoming a scare when he was hit in his pitching hand by a comebacker while pitching for Rancho.

    “I’m just happy to see him out there; we feel good about it,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “We’ve checked all the boxes. Just go out there and compete. There will be some nerves, adrenaline, some emotion, but outside of that, just be Walker and try to get as many outs as he can to try to help us win a ballgame.”

    There no doubt will be restrictions on Buehler’s workload moving forward, but Roberts avoided getting into specifics.

    “I think that is going to be open-ended or read-and-react,” Roberts said about the Buehler plan. “Obviously, his health is most important going forward. It could be a situation from Monday onward, he makes every start. There could be a time where he needs to take a blow. It’s going to be contingent on how he’s feeling, for the most part.”

    For now, Buehler is content with just being part of the team again. He simply wants quality instead of quantity when it comes to his innings this season.

    “Yeah, being away is tough,” Buehler said. “You’re here long enough and you develop relationships with everyone from the top of this organization to the people in the food room and the clubbies. You get comfortable here and I think that is why everyone wants to come back here is because it’s a comfortable place and somewhere you feel valued.

    “To be in the desert (of Arizona) for a year and then to miss the first month and a half, or whatever, it just sucks. So I’m happy to be back and ready to help us win.”


    Buehler not only threw a bullpen Friday, so did Clayton Kershaw, who is on the mend from shoulder surgery.

    “Clayton threw his first bullpen today,” Roberts said. “I think it was his six-month mark from surgery. So very good. I think it was 15 throws and he came out of that well.

    Kershaw has a late-July, early-August timetable for a return.

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    Right-hander Bobby Miller also threw from a mound as he attempts to return from shoulder inflammation. Miller made three starts this season with a 5.40 ERA.

    “So today was a good day for all of us,” Roberts said.


    Dodgers leadoff man Mookie Betts was named the first National League Player of the Month this season as he batted .368 with a 1.101 OPS and had six home runs with 23 RBIs and 46 hits. It was his second NL Player of the Month recoginition after he also earned the honor in August of last season. … After going on the injured list four games into his season, outfielder Jason Heyward moved closer to a return by hitting and running at full speed. Roberts said the veteran was pain-free during his workouts. … After pitching an inning both Wednesday and Thursday for Triple-A Oklahoma City, right-hander Blake Treinen (chest/lung) could be activated to the active roster at some point during the homestand.


    Braves (RHP Bryce Elder, 1-0, 1.50 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Tyler Glasnow, 5-1, 2.72), Saturday, 6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM

    ​ Orange County Register