Buehler has bone spur removed; timetable for return unchanged

June 15th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers starter Walker Buehler, who sustained a Grade 2 flexor strain in his right elbow on Friday, underwent a procedure to remove a bone spur during Monday’s off-day. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAtrrache and won’t change Buehler’s 10- to 12-week scheduled recovery time.

“It’s something that I’ve dealt with for a long time,” Buehler said. “Given that rest and rehab was 10 to 12 weeks and having this spur removed was 10 to 12 weeks, as a group, we just decided to go ahead and get it done. It was something I was going to get done in the offseason, probably.”

Buehler said there was obvious relief knowing that no ligaments were impacted during the injury and that he won’t require Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in 2015, two months after being drafted by the Dodgers.

The right-hander had an idea that his injury was a flexor strain, given that he suffered one as a senior in high school and again as a junior in college. He first felt discomfort on a breaking ball to Mike Yastrzremski in the third inning. Buehler was able to pitch two more innings despite the injury.

“Obviously, my concern level wasn’t that high. It was just something that wasn’t right as we looked through the scans,” Buehler said. “I don’t want to say significant, but it was Grade 2 flexor strain. So I got it pretty good. Just rest it, rehab it and figure it out from there.”

Familiarity with the injury and what the rehab process entails give Buehler optimism that he’ll be able to make a full recovery this season. If Buehler misses 12 weeks, that would have him tentatively scheduled to return sometime in September.

“I’ve been through the rehab process before, obviously with my Tommy John, and came out the other side really good,” Buehler said. “Hopefully it’ll be the same result this time. But it’s a tricky thing. You never know what’s going to happen on the other side of these things.”

As Buehler alluded to, a setback at any point in the rehab process could put the right-hander in a race against the calendar. The Dodgers are also going to play it carefully with one of their key pieces for the future. But the Dodgers are also hopeful that three months will be enough to ramp up Buehler and have him join the postseason rotation.

But right now, the only thing on their mind is keeping Buehler engaged with the team and getting him through Monday’s procedure.

“Realizing that getting the bone spurs removed, taking the allotted time needed and hopefully giving ourselves an opportunity to get him back in September sometime seemed like the best course of action,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “What’s done is done, and I think as a ballplayer now, it’s like ‘Let’s go, let’s get the rest and start the rehab process to get back to playing.”

In Buehler’s absence, the Dodgers will rely on Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías to step up. Left-hander Andrew Heaney, who has been out for two months with a left shoulder injury, could be re-joining the rotation on Sunday after tossing five scoreless innings for Double-A Tulsa on Tuesday.

Buehler was 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA in 12 starts with the Dodgers this season. He led Los Angeles with 33 starts in 2021 and finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting.