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.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.