After being tested by Marlins physician, Dr. Lee Kaplan, and getting a second opinion from Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati, surgery was not recommended.
Choate actually had a small tear in the elbow. Rather than have a surgical procedure, rest was recommended.
"One of the jokes that Dr. Kaplan and I had was, I am 36 and I've had no surgeries," Choate said. "Our joke is we kept the streak going and I'm still 36."
On Thursday, Choate threw off the mound for the first time in Spring Training. The veteran lefty is fine, and expected to be a big part of the bullpen.
"I feel like I did at the start of last season," he said. "Hopefully, [the inflammation] I can just put that into the past, and it won't happen again."
Choate was one of the most reliable Marlins relievers in 2011, posting a 1.82 ERA in 54 games. Because he was a lefty specialist, his totally innings were low, 24 2/3. But his effectiveness was impressive, as he struck out 31 and walked 13, five intentionally.
Lefty batters were 10 for 69 (.145) against him.
Choate went on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation on Aug. 18, and he didn't return.
Since the team fell far out of contention in the second half, there was no urgency to rush him back.
"I've been playing catch since mid-November," he said. "I gave it three good months to heal."
Leading into Spring Training, the left-hander threw about 16 times off the mound.
"I've got sink on my fastball, and I'm where I want to be physically," he said.
Choate isn't sure why his elbow flared up. With a sidearm delivery, he asked if it was something he was doing.
"I asked if it had anything to do with the way I threw," he said. "They said it was a freak [injury]. They can't explain it at all. I don't know how it happened at all. It kind of just happened."