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Saito’s ready; Kuo has surgery

Times Staff Writer

Takashi Saito could resume being the Dodgers’ closer today, but Hong-Chih Kuo might not be ready to pitch again until next season.

Saito threw off a mound in what he described as a pain-free, 39-pitch bullpen session Wednesday, the same day that Kuo underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow.

Manager Grady Little said of Saito: “He’s ready to go.”

Saito, who has missed the Dodgers’ last seven games, remained his cautious self and said that he had to see how he felt this morning to determine his next course of action.

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“I feel comfortable throwing,” Saito said Wednesday. “But just because I threw once, it doesn’t mean I won’t have problems tomorrow.”

Saito underwent an MRI exam Monday that revealed no structural damage to his sore right shoulder. But Saito said he felt he was “one or two steps” away from being ready to close. One of those steps, he said, was to recover his sense of balance on the mound.

Kuo’s journey back to a major league mound will be considerably longer.

The elbow surgery is the third for Kuo, who underwent two Tommy John surgeries early in his career.

Trainer Stan Conte said the latest procedure consisted of Dr. Neal ElAttrache extracting one loose chip from his elbow. Kuo will start rehabilitation today.

Conte said it was too early to estimate when Kuo could be back.

“You really won’t know for the next 10 or 14 days and see how he starts off his rehab,” Conte said. “To get back to pitching at the major league level, it’s hard to tell if he has enough time left until the end of the season. I’ve seen some of these go very quickly and others take a very long time, so it’s not right to speculate at this point.”

Surgery was something the Dodgers were hoping to postpone until the end of the season.

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Kuo complained of elbow pain after his June 29 start and was put on the disabled list. Conte said the loose chip was discovered in an MRI exam performed around that time.

“We were concerned mostly with the ligaments and the ligaments were fine,” said Conte, noting that many pitchers continue to throw with bone chips.

Kuo was making progress in a throwing program, only to experience irritation again.

Kuo, who turned 26 Monday, lost his last three starts, giving up 18 runs, 16 earned, in 10 1/3 innings. He is 1-4 with a 7.42 earned-run average.

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Rudy Seanez said he isn’t concerned about his recent loss in form. Seanez, who gave up only three home runs in his first 42 1/3 innings, has served up five in his last 4 2/3 .

Seanez, who gave up a grand slam to Craig Biggio on Tuesday in his fifth appearance in eight days, said his increased workload hasn’t been a factor. He instead blamed a mechanical glitch in his delivery that he discovered while watching video of himself.

“It’s slight,” Seanez said, “but it’s there.”

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Randy Wolf lasted four innings in a rehabilitation start for the Dodgers’ class-A affiliate in San Bernardino, giving up three runs and six hits to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The left-hander, who was put on the disabled list because of shoulder pain July 4, struck out four, walked one and gave up two home runs.

Little said earlier in the day that the decision whether to give Wolf a second rehab start would be based on his performance.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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