Dodgers’ Walker Buehler reveals why he can't pitch in 2023

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler (21) walks in the dugout prior to a regular season game between the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said Wednesday he shut down his comeback from Tommy John surgery this season because he wasn’t recovering well after a rehab start.

The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings in a rehab appearance on Sept. 3 for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

"I was throwing 96 (mph) or whatever. Physically I felt really good, it’s just the recovery part of it is tough," Buehler said. "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."

It was his first outing since his Aug. 23, 2022, surgery.

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"The way I explain it is I feel like I kind of bet on a longshot horse and it ran second. I certainly don’t think it came in last," Buehler said, using an analogy associated with the Kentucky native’s passion for horse racing. "I got really, really close. After the game we just didn’t like the pros and cons of where I was at."

Buehler had been aiming to rejoin the NL West-leading Dodgers this month.

"I didn’t want to be a hinderance in any way," he told reporters. "Like that I know that’s kind of more humble than you guys are used to hearing me, but it’s part of it.

Buehler gave no thought to working as a one-inning reliever.

"Have you seen my numbers as a reliever?" he asked.

The two-time All-Star will become a first-time father during the upcoming offseason and plans to be in Los Angeles in January to start preparing for the 2024 season.

Buehler is 46-16 with 3.02 ERA in 115 career appearances. He has not pitched in the majors since June 10, 2022.

"I got to compete and go out and did it pretty quickly and I’m pretty proud of that," he said.