February 18, 2013
Monday, February 18
The Reds invested $8.5 million in Ryan Madson last offseason, only to watch the former Phillie go down with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 11. Madson declined the mutual option included in his contract to hit the market for the second time in his career, and quickly drew a $3.5 million gamble from the Angels, who hoped to buy low on the recovering right-hander and thereby address their late-inning relief struggles.
Now, as most Americans enjoy their Presidents Day off, Madson will come to the Angels facility in Tempe facing a big day at the office. Today’s Roundup begins there…
Madson could start throwing again today
If Madson is able to endure a throwing session on Monday and stay pain-free for the rest of spring training, then he might be able to make his Angels debut within the first couple of weeks of the regular season. As the northpaw himself told Fletcher, his desire to accelerate his rehabilitation and strength-rebuilding process in an effort to be ready for Opening Day may have contributed to the recent setback. And, with that in mind, it seems fair to assume that when the Angels begin their campaign at Great American Ball Park on April 1, in the new scheduling format’s first interleague series, they will do so without their marquee bullpen addition.
General manager Jerry Dipoto did not stop looking for relief upgrades after adding Madson, though; he also picked up ex-National Sean Burnett on a two-year, $8 million deal, to serve as the primary left-handed setup man to Madson, who at that point was still on track to be the closer at the beginning of the season. Burnett is likely to stay in that role, which means that Ernesto Frieri, who came over from the Padres last May 3, will retain the ninth-inning reins for at least the first half of April.
Frieri faded in the second half after a dazzling start, in which he pitched 13 consecutive hitless innings following the trade, but he still amassed a 35-to-9 K:BB over 28 innings after the All-Star break. The 28-year-old was felled by the gopher ball down the stretch, as he served up seven of them in the 28-inning span, but his track record of success against both righty and lefty batters should enable him to continue handling the closer role with aplomb.