Ryan Madson plays catch, but return timetable is uncertain

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Ryan Madson played catch today, throwing for the first time since experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired elbow on February 1.

“He’s starting a progression of about 50 feet,” manager Mike Scioscia said, via the Associated Press. “He felt great after his last [session]. Until he can get out there and get in long toss we’re not going to know exactly where he is.”

Signed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal to serve as the Angels’ closer despite missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery, Madson has little chance to be ready for Opening Day even if he can avoid further setbacks. The good news is that an MRI exam showed no structural damage and Ernesto Frieri is perfectly capable of thriving in the ninth inning if needed.

The Red Sox designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox activated Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they made to make room for him on the roster was a big one too: they designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup. At the moment the Red Sox have the second best offense in all of baseball despite Ramirez’s performance.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however and, long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.