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07/10/09 2:53 AM ET

Kuo takes aim at yet another comeback

After fourth elbow operation, lefty begins rehab stint

NEW YORK -- Hong-Chih Kuo, whose future has been in serious doubt since he was put on the disabled list April 30 with another in an endless series of elbow injuries, made his first Triple-A rehab appearance Thursday night, allowing one run on one hit with a walk in one inning.

The Dodgers aren't counting on Kuo returning, but with the recent elbow injury to workhorse rookie Ronald Belisario, it sure would be nice if he did.

"I call him the cockroach, because you can't kill him," joked trainer Stan Conte, who said there is no handbook on dealing with Kuo and a left elbow that has undergone four operations, two of them being Tommy John reconstructions.

Yet, Kuo keeps coming back. And since being sent to Arizona to recover, last year's MLB.com Setup Man of the Year seems to have done it better than anybody expected.

Kuo made several extended spring training appearances and three one-inning appearances in Arizona League Rookie Level games. And he came out of each one with no problems, so Conte suggested the promotion to Albuquerque for a tougher test and better read on how close he is to being ready.

"We need to move him up to a higher level and see what happens," he said.

Conte won't speculate on when, or if, Kuo makes it back to the Major Leagues.

"He's incredibly unpredictable," he said. "He is a unique guy with all he's been through. I've taken this day to day, one week at a time. He's a definitive maybe.

"They can ask me if he'll come back, I don't know. If he'll be able to pitch back-to-back, I don't know. If he can pitch every other day, I don't know. You talk to him and he always says he's OK. But you never really know."

Belisario seemed to escape serious injury when his elbow came up tight this week, but he still figures to miss a minimum of a month. He will meet the club in Milwaukee for the weekend to be re-examined and discuss a recovery program for the All-Star break.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.