GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- While the Reds stayed mostly silent Friday about the nature of closer Ryan Madson's elbow injury, it was revealed that he is headed back to Cincinnati to be checked out. Madson, 31, will be examined by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. "Nothing yet," Reds manager Dusty Baker said when asked if he knew anything about Madson's condition. "He won't be analyzed until [Saturday]. He went back to Cincinnati. We won't know anything until [Saturday]."
Madson, one of the Reds' prized winter acquisitions when he was signed to a one-year, $8.5 million free-agent deal in January, originally came down with what was termed as right elbow irritation in late February.
At the time, the injury was considered minor and something that Madson had experienced before while a member of the Phillies. But it was enough of an issue to keep him out of all of Cincinnati's Spring Training games.The news on Madson has grown increasingly positive over the past week as he looked good during side bullpen sessions. He threw 20 pitches in a simulated game against three Reds hitters on Tuesday, and reported no issues. Madson was scheduled to throw in a Minor League game on Friday, but that was scratched on Thursday. No one from the Reds will say what went wrong or what caused the outing to be called off. Signed to replace Francisco Cordero as closer, Madson saved 32 of 34 games while posting a 2.37 ERA over 62 games last season with the Phillies. Regardless of the outcome of Madson's exam with Kremchek, time is running out in Spring Training, and the regular season opens in less than two weeks on April 5 vs. the Marlins. It would seem unlikely at this point that the right-hander would be ready to begin on time even if he wasn't seriously injured. Lefty setup man Sean Marshall, also acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Cubs, would seem to be the next logical choice to assume the closer's role without Madson. Baker was not ready to discuss a contingency plan. "I don't know. We have to see about this first," Baker said. Marshall, 29, had a 2.26 ERA in 78 games last season for Chicago, and also had five saves. He said no one has told him anything about his status yet, but he was ready to step up if needed. "I think all of us would love the opportunity to pitch in the ninth inning and help the team win the game," Marshall said. "I've done it a couple of times the last couple of years filling in for a guy that was either tired or hurt. I enjoy closing the game out, especially in a win. I like contributing to a victory." Marshall noted that his preparation for the regular season would not be different as closer or setting up. But he was hopeful that he wouldn't be needed to close. "We'll see. [Madson] was on the right track," Marshall said. "Hopefully it's just a one-day setback. He's as good as closers get, so we need him bad."