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Walker Buehler details decision to lengthen recovery timeline

Buehler said that a tougher postgame recovery process will prevent him from returning this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Walker Buehler’s hopes of returning this season met a quick end after his September 3 rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City, his first in-game appearance since his Tommy John surgery just over a year ago. The Dodgers announced on September 8 that Buehler would not pitch in 2023, and instead focus on returning in 2024.

“Physically I felt really good, it’s just the recovery part of it is tough,” Buehler said to reporters before Wednesday’s game against the San Diego Padres. “Trying to come back from a second Tommy John in 13 months to pitch in playoff games at some point had to go perfect and the nature of rehab is just that it doesn’t always go perfect.”

Upon realizing that his postgame recovery was harder than anticipated, Buehler said he spoke with his agents, his family, and members of the Dodgers organization before deciding against pitching again this year. The intensity of the playoffs factored into his decision, as did the possibility of taking a spot on the roster while still requiring extra recovery time after games.

Buehler said that he plans to begin his preseason training with Dodgers staff in January this year, something that he hasn’t done in the past.

When asked whether he was at least well enough to pitch an inning here or there, Buehler quickly brushed the idea off.

“Have you seen my numbers as a reliever?” he quipped. “I don’t think that’s something that I really can do at the level that the guys we have do, regardless of my health.”

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