Of all of the big moves made by the Los Angeles Angels this off-season, one of the bigger and most important ones was the signing of Ryan Madson for the closer role. A great deal depends on Madson being able to return to form and anchor the bullpen as the solid closer he was before elbow troubles came calling. A setback at the beginning of Spring Training could push back his return and hurt the bullpen as a result.
Madson didn’t feel like he had pushed too hard, but felt discomfort just the same after his throwing session recently. Doctors advised him and the team to take it easy on the elbow. It could go a few directions. It is possible that there could be some damage done in the repaired elbow. Thankfully for the Angels, that is not the most likely scenario. More than likely, it is just a fairly normal setback that many pitchers have when returning from Tommy John surgery.
In his stead, Ernesto Frieri will take the role of closer for the beginning of the season. Frieri has closer stuff but isn’t quite the caliber of a healthy Madson. As long as Madson’s recovery is only slowed instead of stalled, the Angels should be okay in the short term. If all goes well, Frieri might even have himself ready to be one of the top set-up men in MLB after closing for a short time. The worry is the structure that having one solid closer brings to the bullpen. For now the Angels will not have that, so they need Madson to be able to get it back.