Every year, there are players that appear in a major league camp that make even the hardcore fans scratch their heads. More often than not, these players had fallen off a cliff, either through injury of ineffectiveness, having disappeared from the public consciousness like Molly Ringwald once the 1980’s ended. The Kansas City Royals have a couple of those players in their major league camp, but perhaps none are as surprising as Ryan Madson.
The last time Madson faced a major league batter was September 28,2011. In that final appearance, he struck out Freddie Freeman for what has been, to this point, the final out he has recorded in the majors. Since then, Madson has undergone Tommy John surgery, was released by the Angels, and has spent the past three seasons recovering from injury.
Since striking out Freeman, Ryan Madson has pitched all of one inning – in 2013 for the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League. He did retire all three batters he faced, striking out one and earning the save, but that has been the entirety of what Madson has done on the mound since 2011.
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Needless to say, Madson is not counted on to be a part of the Royals success this season. Signed to a minor league contract, if Madson is pitching key innings for the Royals, it means one of two things. On the negative side, it means that half the Royals bullpen is on the disabled list, and Madson may be the closest to a healthy reliever that the Royals have. That is truly a frightening thought.
However, if Ryan Madson can find a way to turn back the clock and be the pitcher he was from 2007 through 2011, then the Royals may have found quite the bargain. During that time, Madson was one of the better relievers in baseball, posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.192 WHiP, striking out 314 batters in 329.2 innings of work. Used as a closer in 2011, Madson was brilliant, putting together a 2.35 ERA and a 1.154 WHiP, saving 32 games in what has been his final season thus far.
It is certainly a long shot to think that Madson can be a contributor for the Royals this season. The bullpen is seemingly set, with perhaps one spot being open to competition. If, and it is quite the substantial if, Madson can be even close to what he was in the past, he could fight for that last spot.
Ryan Madson may be a name that you had not heard in a long time, but he could be fairly interesting to watch during Spring Training. Here’s to hoping that he has something left in the tank!