Ryan Madson: “This is the closest I’ve felt to being normal”

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Ryan Madson has basically been “two weeks” away from returning since February, but setbacks with his surgically repaired elbow have reset his timetable multiple times.

He’s once again making progress, throwing a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday “with conviction, with extension, and without one bit of pain.” Seriously, that’s the quote he gave to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

DiGiovanna reports that Madson will throw again Friday and, barring another setback, is now aiming to join the Angels’ bullpen by May 1. If/when he does return it won’t be in the closer role, which was the Angels’ plan for Madson initially after signing him. That job is now Ernesto Frieri’s until either he falters or Madson forces his way into the picture by actually pitching well.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.