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Brett Anderson expected out 3-5 months after arthroscopic back surgery

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers will be without starting pitcher Brett Anderson for the bulk of the season, as the left-hander will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disc in his back, manager Dave Roberts announced on Tuesday.

Anderson felt something in his last few pitches when throwing live batting practice on Tuesday, and an MRI exam showed the bulging disc. He is expected to miss three to five months.

"I was surprised. I was shocked. Talking to him yesterday morning, he thought it would be a couple-day thing that would subside," Roberts said. "It wasn't near the sensation he had before."

The surgery will be performed in Phoenix by Dr. Chris Yeung, the same physician who performed the surgery to repair a herniated disc in Anderson's lower back in August 2014, when he was with the Rockies.

Anderson is coming off his healthiest season in years, putting up a 3.69 ERA in 31 starts and 180⅓ innings for the Dodgers after making just 32 starts and pitching 206⅓ total innings in the previous four years combined.

He accepted the Dodgers' qualifying offer of one-year, $15.8 million for 2016 rather than test an open free agent market filled with starting pitchers, as he put it betting on himself to put up another good season in 2016 for another free agency run. This was Anderson's healthiest offseason in some time.

"I'll always be in prehab mode. With all the injuries I've had I'm doing stuff that will hopefully prevent them in the future. It was a mix of that, and this year I was able to do strength training and things I wasn't able to in previous years," Anderson said in the first few days of camp. "Hopefully it will mean being strong for 30-plus starts rather than getting my body through those starts."

The team won't truly know the extent of the damage until the arthroscopic surgery is complete, but Roberts said he expects Anderson to pitch again in 2016.

"We absolutely do," Roberts said. "We've got a big window with arthroscopic surgery, but we're definitely optimistic."

In the interim, this strengthens Alex Wood's claim on a rotation spot if not cements it, and it opens up an opportunity for Brandon Beachy and Mike Bolsinger to take another spot. The club still hasn't decided what to do with Carlos Frias, whether he might start or relieve, but he would be in the running for the rotation spot along with that group, ahead of some of the youngsters in camp like Julio Urias and Jose De Leon.

The Dodgers are also likely without Hyun-jin Ryu until May, and Ryu felt some discomfort in his left shoulder this week that was called normal but enough of a setback that he was shut down for a few days, as the Dodgers continue to take things slow with Ryu

"We didn't think our depth would be tested so early," Roberts said. "You can't plan for anything in baseball."