August 23 has been circled on Dodger fans’ calendars for a couple weeks now, ever since we found out that was the day Walker Buehler would be having his season-ending surgery. There was a lot of intrigue about this surgery, because even the surgeon didn’t know going in exactly what kind of surgery it would be.
Well, August 23 came, and we found out it was the worst-case scenario: Buehler’s second Tommy John surgery.
Buehler, whose first Tommy John surgery came shortly after the Dodgers picked him in the 2015 draft, broke the news himself on Instagram:
Buehler’s surgery, like his first one, was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Brewers, Dodgers president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman met with reports in the home dugout at Dodger Stadium to talk about the surgery. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register relays, the Dodgers knew going in that TJ was a realistic possibility.
“We knew that there was a real chance of that,” Friedman said. “It’s a tough blow but from all the sounds of it, it went as well as could possibly be expected. Talking to Dr. ElAttrache earlier, he felt really confident about it. Felt like he went in and got it back in good order.
“But there’s no sugarcoating it. It is a tough blow.”
When Buehler was injured in June, an MRI showed a strained flexor tendon, which Dr. ElAttrache also repaired during yesterday’s surgery. The hope at the time was that rest and rehab would get Buehler healthy and back on the mound.
When Buehler’s throwing program wasn’t producing the results they had hoped for, they did another MRI, this time with contrast, and they were still unable to get a clear picture of how Buehler’s ulnar collateral ligament was doing.
Because of Buehler’s previous TJ, there is scar tissue around his UCL, so the MRIs were unable to get a good reading on how the ligament was doing. That’s when the decision was made to open up Buehler’s elbow, so Dr. ElAttrache could see the ligament with his eyes and know what needed to be done.
The Dodgers knew Tommy John surgery was possible, but it was considered the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, sometimes those worst-case scenarios come true.
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