Dodgers’ Chris Taylor feeling better after offseason elbow surgery

Chris Taylor talks with Dodgers teammate Max Muncy during batting practice at spring training.
Chris Taylor, left, talks with Dodgers teammate Max Muncy during batting practice at spring training Sunday. Taylor says he was experiencing discomfort in his elbow over the final two months of the 2021 season.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Chris Taylor’s new four-year, $60-million contract with the Dodgers had been public knowledge for a while. An offseason surgery he had on his right elbow, however, came as a bit of news at Dodgers camp Monday morning.

Speaking to reporters for the first time this spring, the Dodgers utility man discussed both winter developments, happy to have both out of the way going into the season.

“Hopefully I’ll feel good going in this year,” Taylor said. “And my arm will be a little better.”

Taylor said he quietly dealt with elbow discomfort over the final two months of last season, the pain bothering him most when he would extend his arm at the end of a swing.

Braves GM Alex Anthopoulous says he was truly emotional about losing Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers. “It’s a sad day, no matter how you slice it up.”


“It was something I could manage and like, just kind of get worked on and get it loose,” he said. “Just kind of had to manage the workload more than anything.”

Taylor, who also was battling a pinched nerve in his neck down the stretch, didn’t think the issues affected his game. But they were complications, coinciding with his .121 batting average and .402 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in September.

“By the time the game started I didn’t notice it,” Taylor said. “It was more so just like working up to the game and getting it loose. Like in the mornings would be the worst, when it’s stiff when I wake up. But by the time the game started, it didn’t affect my play or anything like that.”

Taylor bounced back with a strong postseason in which he hit four home runs, including the walk-off blast in the winner-take-all wild-card game, and posted strong numbers overall last year, hitting .254 with 20 home runs to earn his first All-Star selection.

Chris Taylor swings and looks up.
Chris Taylor hits a two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS in October.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Still, when the season ended, Taylor said he had an MRI exam on his elbow that revealed “a bunch of bone chips, loose pieces” that had to be cleaned up. After undergoing what manager Dave Roberts described as a “minor operation” in mid-November, he rehabilitated throughout the lockout before beginning to swing a bat again in January.

Taylor is on a throwing program to rebuild stamina in his arm and scheduled to play the field in a spring game for the first time Thursday. So far, he has been only a designated hitter, but should be “good to go” for the start of the season, according to Roberts.

“That kind of stuff is good for you, just getting that arm care in,” Taylor said of the rehab process. “A lot of times, I think when you have an injury that forces you to do that stuff, it ends up working out for the better, strengthening all those small muscles,” Taylor added. “The swing’s fine [now]. … It’s nice to wake up in the morning and not have this tightness in my bicep and forearm.”

Kenley Jansen grew up rooting for the Atlanta Braves. When they made him an offer and the Dodgers asked him to wait, he decided to go with his boyhood favorite.

While Taylor was working through his elbow injury in November, he also was working toward a new contract as a first-time free agent.

“It was a new experience,” Taylor said. “I try to stay out of it as much as I can and let my agent handle most of it.”

Taylor said the Dodgers were always his No. 1 choice and was thankful the sides hammered out his deal — which runs through 2025 and includes a club option for 2026 — hours before the lockout began.

“It was great,” he said. “Just peace of mind, knowing where I was going to be. I can’t imagine how hard it was for all the free agents that had to wait through all that before they could negotiate.”

Muncy returns to game action

For the first time since suffering a torn elbow ligament on the last day of the season, Max Muncy returned to game action Monday in the Dodgers’ 8-6 loss against the Chicago White Sox

Muncy went 0 for 1 with a strikeout and walk, but was pleased about how his elbow felt almost six months removed from the injury.

“It felt good to be back,” said Muncy, who also played three innings at third base. “We’re working through some things, but the most important thing is to get out there and get some game action.”

Muncy said he’s still working through some rust with his swing and is “maybe not fully” over the mental hurdle of the injury. But he continued to sound optimistic that he’s getting closer to normal everyday.

“It’s just more of loosening it up and feeling it tight, that type of thing,” he said. “But it hasn’t been bad by any means; you just have to get it going again. It’s like if you’ve been sitting in a car for a long time, your legs get stiff. It’s almost like that. But we’re close, I think.”

Short hops

Reliever Caleb Ferguson also made a return to game action, pitching a scoreless inning in his first outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020. “There was a little relief, there was a little joy,” Roberts said. “It’s been a while since he’s been on the mound, so really happy for him.” … Outfielder AJ Pollock was scratched from the lineup because of “normal body soreness” and back tightness, according to Roberts. … Catcher Austin Barnes left the game after taking a foul ball off the mask. Roberts said he was feeling “a little foggy.” He will be reevaluated Tuesday. ... Right-hander Walker Buehler is slated to start Tuesday and will be followed by Andrew Heaney. Clayton Kershaw will start Wednesday.