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The king of comebacks: Hong-Chih Kuo makes a successful start to his latest return

June 22, 2011 |  9:39 am

Kuo3 How do you not feel great for Hong-Chih Kuo?

If ever there was a player that teammates, management, fans and even the media were pulling for, it’s Kuo.

Four elbow operations, including two Tommy Johns, and he kept battling, kept coming back. All the way back last season to an All-Star.

Yet he was felled again this spring, and for the second time, with an anxiety disorder. An unfortunately unavoidably public bout.

And he battled again. Battled through rehab assignments, through counselors, until after not pitching for over six weeks he returned Tuesday night in the eighth against the Tigers.

He pitched a perfect inning, getting a strikeout and a pair of fly-ball outs.

"I’m just happy to be back,’’ Kuo said.

Kuo faced the middle of the Detroit lineup in his return.

"He comes in in a tough part of their lineup, gets three outs and makes it uneventful for us,’’ said manager Don Mattingly.

Kuo was activated Sunday, but this was the first time Mattingly felt he had the right spot to use him. Then while he warmed up in the bullpen, the Dodgers had a long bottom of the sixth, scoring a pair of runs.

Yet it hardly increased his apprehension.

"No, it was good for me,’’ Kuo said. "I was happy to get the extra time to warm up. I knew I was ready.’’

His teammates tried to act normal when he walked off the mound following his 1-2-3 inning, but he knew how they felt: "They were happy for me.’’

One more comeback was underway.

Said catcher A.J. Ellis: "Kuo is awesome. I'm so happy for him. The guy is so resilient.’’


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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Hong-Chih Kuo delivers pitch during the eighth inning of the Dodgers' 6-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez / U.S. Presswire