Reliever Elbert not expected back until May

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers left-handed reliever Scott Elbert, recovering from his second elbow operation in four months, said on Wednesday that he won't resume throwing until next month and doesn't expect to return until May.

"They didn't give me a time frame, but it looks like May," said Elbert, whose second surgery led to the signing of free-agent reliever J.P. Howell for $2.85 million.

On Sept. 19, Elbert underwent a first procedure to remove scar tissue in the back of the elbow. But after beginning a throwing program, he developed pain in a different area that led to a Jan. 23 arthroscopic procedure involving "a new area of cartilage damage [that] was discovered and debrided" by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, according to Elbert.

"It feels a lot better now," Elbert said of the elbow. "After the first surgery, I tried throwing for two weeks but had to shut it down. It never calmed down; it just hurt."

Elbert went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA over 43 appearances last year before being injured a second time at the end of August. His injury could provide an opening for lefty Paco Rodriguez, who was the first player from last year's Draft to reach the Major Leagues; he posted a 1.35 ERA in 11 appearances.

Elbert said he won't allow himself to push too hard, too soon.

"I know I'm already behind, so there's no reason to force the issue now," Elbert said. "What's the difference if I miss four weeks or six? I just want to be sure that when I come back, I come back with a brand new arm."