The surgical procedure to remove loose bodies and scar tissue from the left elbow of Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo -- the fifth operation Kuo has had on the elbow during his professional career, including two Tommy John reconstructions while he still was in the minor leagues -- went as planned on Friday.
Team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the procedure.
Kuo is expected to need no longer than six to eight weeks to begin a throwing program, and he should be at full strength by the start of spring training. Kuo, an All-Star as recently as 2010 when he led all major league relievers with a 1.20 ERA, is coming off his worst season, one in which he missed six weeks because of a recurrence of the yips and wound up with a career-worst (for a full season) average of 7.7 walks per nine innings. He also posted a 9.00 ERA in 40 appearances.
Kuo's future with the Dodgers is somewhat muddled. He is entering his final winter of arbitration eligibility, but the Dodgers are highly unlikely to go that route with him because he made $2.725 million in 2011 and would get at least a modest raise despite his lackluster season and lingering questions about his health and his on-going control issues.
That means the team is almost certain to non-tender Kuo, making him a free agent a year ahead of schedule, then attempt to re-sign him at a lower salary.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.