Matt Kemp will have surgery on his left shoulder Friday and could be sidelined anywhere from six weeks to four months. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan Jobe Clinic.
If he misses four months, Kemp would be able to resume throwing and hitting in the first week of February 2013. That’s about three weeks before position players traditionally report for spring training. Kemp admitted he might not be ready to go from the start.
“Hopefully just clean (the shoulder) up,” Kemp said. “If they need to do more, they do more.”
Dodgers head athletic trainer Sue Falsone said that Kemp’s recovery time depends on the type of surgery. Debridement surgery is relatively minor and would allow Kemp to resume throwing 6 to 8 weeks afterward, while surgery to repair the torn labrum would require a four-month recovery period.
Kemp tore the labrum in his left shoulder when he crashed into the center-field wall at Coors Field wall on Aug. 28. He managed to play through the pain, hitting .367 with four home runs and nine RBIs in the season’s final eight games.
“If you MRI every guy out here,” Falsone said as the team fanned out around the field during batting practice, “eight out of 10 guys have a labral tear. It’s just a question of inflammation.”
Kemp said that his inflammation was bad enough that not having surgery wasn’t an option.
“It’s just something that needs to be done,” he said. “Of course I’m nervous. I’ve never had surgery before.”
Falsone said that surgery is still possible for pitcher Chad Billingsley.
He’s been playing catch for a couple weeks now, throwing two out of every three days, and hasn’t reported any pain in his right elbow. If that continues he’ll report to the team facility in Glendale, Ariz. to throw off a mound, then throw some simulated games.
Falsone said that Billingsley can avoid Tommy John surgery if he stays pain-free, but “if he hits any road bumps he’s probably going to have to have surgery.”
The surgery was an option when Billingsley was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in September. By delaying that option, the Dodgers are giving Billingsley a chance of pitching in 2013.
“We really had nothing to lose by being conservative,” Falsone said.
Clayton Kershaw seems to be in the clear. The left-hander has been pitching without pain in his right hip while making his final three starts of 2012. Falsone said that Kershaw’s mechanics have been the same since before the injury and did not mention him as a candidate for surgery.