Opinion

Pitcher Ryan Madson dealing with arm fatigue as Royals seek to rest him for playoffs

Pitcher Ryan Madson has not pitched in a week for the Royals because of “dead arm” “It’s just fatigue,” said manager Ned Yost, who opted not to put Madson on the disabled list. “He’s got to build back up. We’ll lay off him here a bit, and get to September.”
Pitcher Ryan Madson has not pitched in a week for the Royals because of “dead arm” “It’s just fatigue,” said manager Ned Yost, who opted not to put Madson on the disabled list. “He’s got to build back up. We’ll lay off him here a bit, and get to September.” The Associated Press

On Aug. 22, a Saturday night in Boston, Ryan Madson threw 18 pitches for the Royals. It was his 55th appearance of his first season in the majors since 2011. After the outing, Madson informed the Royals training staff that each of those 18 pitches agonized his right arm.

“Just complete, dead soreness. A deep, deep ache,” Madson said on Saturday at Tropicana Field, where the Royals were playing the Tampa Bay Rays.

Madson has not pitched in a game since. His arm still aches to the touch, he said. Routine games of catch leave him sore.

If this were earlier in the regular season, and not two games away from the September roster expansion, manager Ned Yost indicated the team would place Madson on the disabled list. Yost does not expect to use Madson again until Tuesday, at the earliest.

“It’s just fatigue,” Yost said. “He’s got to build back up. We’ll lay off him here a bit, and get to September.”

Both Madson and Yost categorized the condition as “dead arm,” which involves a general, unspecific soreness wrought by fatigue. The condition saps the life of a pitcher’s arsenal. When Madson tried to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, he could not throw anything low in the strike zone. Even his trademark changeup floated up in disconcerting fashion.

“My only thing is just the timetable,” Madson said. “When is it going to wake back up, and want some more action? Because mentally I want to finish the season strong.”

Madson underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. He missed all of 2013 and 2014 due to complications from the procedure. He insisted his elbow was not the source of his current discomfort. Yost has said the organization does not believe Madson requires an MRI to investigate the injury.

Madson compared his current distress to the dead arm he experienced as a starting pitcher in high school and the minor leagues. But this version, he said, was “the worst kind I’ve ever had.”

With uncertainty surrounding Madson, the depth of Kansas City’s bullpen takes a hit. Yost seeks to keep his relievers fresh for October, and is excited for September call-ups to arrive on Tuesday. But the team still must manage Madson’s condition, in addition to the condition of closer Greg Holland, who has been one of their less reliable relievers this season.

Madson expressed his regret that his unavailability put extra stress on fellow relievers like Luke Hochevar and Franklin Morales. Otherwise, he explained, he is not worried, and believes he can contribute for the Royals in the playoffs.

“Hopefully I’ll start throwing in the next week or so,” Madson said. “It takes about a week or two to build back up. So I’ll get a week or two (of game action) in before any October activity.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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