The locker for Ryan Madson was unoccupied during voluntary workouts at the Royals complex this week. He won’t don a Kansas City uniform until the weekend, as there are no activities scheduled at the complex when pitchers and catchers report on Thursday.
Once one of baseball’s better relievers, Madson enters camp as an enigmatic quality. He has not pitched in the major leagues since 2011. In his arduous recovery from Tommy John surgery, he has thrown just one inning of baseball, a brief appearance for the Angels’ California League affiliate 2013.
Madson sat out all of last season. The Royals signed him to a minor-league deal in January and invited him to big-league camp. He is far from a reliable entity, but the team considers him fully healthy until notified otherwise.
“He’s going to be healthy,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “There’s no limitations on him.”
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He added, “Unless he shows up with an issue. But if there is one, it hasn’t been relayed. I was told he’s going to be here as a healthy player, and there’s no limitations on him.”
The Royals could use some bullpen depth. The health of Luke Hochevar, less than a year removed from his own Tommy John surgery, will cause some anxiety until he proves his readiness. The candidates for the final spots in the bullpen include Tim Collins and Louis Coleman, both of whom struggled in 2014 and spent a good chunk of the season in the minors.
Madson saved 32 games as Philadelphia’s closer in 2011. From 2009 to 2011, he struck out 204 batters in 191 innings and finished with a 2.78 ERA. Before he inherited the closer’s role, he served as a solid set-up man for Brad Lidge.