Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Blake Hawksworth should be ready for major league competition well in advance of the team's April 5 season opener following arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday to remove a bone spur and scar tissue from his right elbow.
Hawksworth is expected to need four to six weeks to recover from the operation, which was performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. That means Hawksworth likely will begin his spring training throwing program slightly behind the rest of the team's pitchers, but because he is a reliever, he will need less time to catch up.
His rehab will start Monday.
Hawksworth began feeling tenderness and discomfort in the elbow when he started his offseason throwing program a few weeks ago.
Hawksworth, who will turn 29 on March 1, made 49 appearances for the Dodgers last season, posting a 4.08 ERA and allowing 10 of his 20 inherited runners to score. He was acquired the previous winter from the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Ryan Theriot. He is entering his fourth major league season.
Barring further injury to himself or injuries to other relievers, Hawksworth will go to spring training as one of six pitchers who have secured spots in the Dodgers bullpen, joining closer Javy Guerra, setup man Kenley Jansen and middle relievers Scott Elbert, Mike MacDougal and Matt Guerrier.
Several candidates would compete for the final spot, with Josh Lindblom possibly a slight favorite in a field that also includes non-roster veterans John Grabow, Wil Ledezma and Alberto Castillo; prospects Michael Antonini and Nate Eovaldi, who was in line to be the Dodgers' fifth starter until they signed veteran Aaron Harang; and Ramon Troncoso, who struggled last season.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.