Hong-Chih Kuo is scheduled to undergo his fifth elbow operation Friday, but his agent said he intends to pitch next season — even if it’s not for the Dodgers.
“There’s no thought of retirement,” Alan Chang said. “He’s fully committed and highly motivated to do what it takes.”
In the final month of the regular season, Kuo sounded uncertain about his plans for 2012, telling The Times he wanted to pitch but telling mlb.com he might want to run a restaurant in his native Taiwan instead. In addition to dealing with elbow problems, Kuo had to overcome an anxiety disorder that sidelined him for five weeks.
Kuo, who posted a franchise record 1.20 earned-run average in 2010, had a 9.00 ERA this year.
The former All-Star suffered his latest setback this week, when he was unable to bend his arm. Kuo called Dodgers trainer Stan Conte, who advised him against participating in Major League Baseball’s exhibition series in Taiwan next month.
An X-ray on Wednesday revealed a loose body in his elbow.
“It’s a minor surgery for anyone other than Kuo,” Conte said, citing the pitcher’s medical history.
Conte expects Kuo to be able to resume his throwing program in six to eight weeks. But the Dodgers must decide by Dec. 12 whether to tender Kuo a contract for next season. The Dodgers aren’t expected to do so, considering Kuo would be in line to receive a raise from his 2010 salary of $2.725 million in the arbitration process.
Chang said his client would like to remain with the Dodgers.
“Kuo is very appreciative of how supportive the Dodgers organization has been,” he said.
Chang declined to say whether the Dodgers have talked to him about reaching an agreement before the tender date to assure them of avoiding a potentially costly arbitration process.
Asked whether Kuo would consider pitching elsewhere, Chang said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”