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Walker Buehler Says Late Start to Season Was His Idea, Not Dodgers'

Fans are waiting anxiously for Buehler to return.

One of the more anticipated events of the Dodgers' 2024 season will be the return of ace Walker Buehler. The 29-year-old right-hander missed the entire 2023 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is expected to pitch at some point this year.

Buehler almost made his return at the end of last season, but it was decided that he wasn't where he needed to be. One start into his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Buehler shut down his comeback attempt with the idea that he could continue to rehab all offseason and spring training.

Since camp opened, however, Buehler has been slow-playing his return. It was announced that Buehler would have a later start to the season, much to the disappointment of the fanbase. 

Buehler revealed the decision to delay his start to the new year was his own, not the team's.

"The way we have it structured in our heads was kind of what I wanted to do," Buehler said. "I want to be ready at the end of the year. If that means I can't be ready at the beginning, then that's kind of the option or the choice we have to make. Everything that's been written about me is that it's not going well, and I don't think that's true. There's just boxes I've got to check, and I feel good about it."

— Walker Buehler, via

Many have speculated when we will see Buehler back on the mound, but both sides just want to make sure he is fully ready to go. The most important thing is to have Buehler ready for the postseason, so delaying him early on isn't the worst thing.

The Dodgers' starting rotation is deep enough to withstand not having Buehler for the first part of the season. Six off-days follow the Dodgers' season-opening two-game series in Korea. After that, they get one off-day each week for the first six weeks of the regular season. They don't have to play nine days in a row until mid-May.

All that means Buehler can ease his way back in. Once he does return, the Dodgers will keep him on an innings limit to lower his chances of reinjuring his elbow or forearm. 

The hope is that Buehler can return to his pre-injury form, which saw him rank among the most dominant arms around the league. It will be a welcomed sight whenever he does take the mound again, as Buehler has become a fan favorite.