Dodgers coaching staff has concerning comments about Walker Buehler’s recovery

Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

Walker Buehler's return from Tommy John has been tumultuous, marked by setbacks during rehab and miscommunications/disagreements with the team on when he'll be ready to come back. He underwent the surgery in Aug. 2022 and attempted a minor-league rehab stint in 2023 in the hopes of getting back to the mound for the postseason. Clearly, that didn't pan out. Buehler is at Dodgers spring training now, and has been eager to get innings in there, but Dodgers management has pumped the brakes on that possibility.

There seems to be a clear disconnect between Buehler and the Dodgers about how ready he is to come back. Buehler has repeatedly expressed a desire to pitch in the major leagues as soon as possible (with early projections in April or May) and has touted his velocity as being almost back to where it was when he was healthy. However, the Dodgers have remained hesitant to spell out a firm timeline. Dave Roberts said last week that he had no idea when Buehler would be back.

Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior took things a step further. He said that he didn't feel that Buehler had ever completed his rehab in the first place, and that he still needed to go back and finish before the team makes the decision to put him back on the mound.

Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior shared worrying thoughts on Walker Buehler's rehab

Prior's comments make it seem like we won't be seeing Buehler at all during spring training, and that he might not even be back until late May or even June. If his rehab is as incomplete as Prior believes, the team is likely to send him back to Triple-A for more rehab starts, and we'll be right back to where we were in September of last year.

Thankfully, the Dodgers rotation is in pretty good shape without Buehler. Emmet Sheehan, who will get the fourth or fifth spot, is still largely untested, but the other four arms do seem like they're in good shape to hold the fort down until Buehler is actually good to go.

Still, there's been a worrying amount of back and forth, and apparent progressions and regressions, between Buehler and the team. Seeing him during a very late spring training game still might be in the cards if he gets his way, but the possibility seems dimmer by the day, and we're almost sure to see more conflicting updates before he actually does finally return.