Ryan Madson is “ahead of schedule” in his Tommy John surgery recovery

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Ryan Madson is expected to be the Angels’ closer if he’s healthy for Opening Day following Tommy John elbow surgery that wiped out his entire 2012 season and general manager Jerry Dipoto says the right-hander is “on or ahead of schedule.”

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that Madson threw off a mound Monday for the first time since going under the knife and “will continue throwing twice a week until spring training begins.”

Dipoto described the Angels as “encouraged” by Madson’s progress, so it certainly sounds like he’ll be ready for spring training barring any setbacks. Madson, who had the surgery last April after signing a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Reds, got $3.5 million plus incentives from the Angels.

Astros officially announce the Michael Brantley signing

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The Astros officially announced their signing of outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year, $32 million deal.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

As previously reported, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Brantley.