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Chris Withrow has torn UCL, Tommy John surgery recommended

Mark Kolbe

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers relief pitcher Chris Withrow has been diagnosed with a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. It was recommended he need Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander will seek a second opinion next week while continuing treatment.

Withrow last pitched on May 20, retiring two of three batters faced against the Mets in New York. He was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque the next day, but then reported pain in his right elbow. Withrow on May 23 met with Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who diagnosed the UCL tear and recommended Tommy John surgery.

The right-hander was subsequently placed on the major league disabled list.

It is unclear exactly when Withrow may have suffered the injury, but in his first seven appearances of the season he had 13 strikeouts and only three walks, allowing one unearned run in eight innings. Since then, in a span of 13 appearances in five weeks, Withrow walked 15 and struck out 15 in 13⅓ innings.

The Dodgers drafted Withrow in the first round in 2007, but his career seemed stuck in neutral, and in Double-A as a starter. He switched to the bullpen in the middle of 2012 and has enjoyed great success since. He was 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA in 46 appearances in 2013-2014 with the Dodgers, with 71 strikeouts and 31 walks in 56 innings.

Withrow earned manager Don Mattingly's trust in higher leverage roles.

"Obviously we like his stuff. It's funny, you kind of match up every day with the sheet. You match up caution areas and good areas. With [Withrow], his stuff is pretty much always good. You can match him up with anybody," Mattingly said in April. "You want a guy with that kind of stuff."

If Withrow does end up having the surgery, he'll be the second Dodgers pitcher this year to do so, joining Ross Stripling. Chad Billingsley had the procedure in April 2013 and now, 13 months later, is getting closer to a possible minor league rehab assignment, still at least a month away from a major league return. Scott Elbert had the surgery in June 2013 and is still on the long, slow road back as well.