With clean MRI, Madson won't rush elbow recovery

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Two things became clear regarding Ryan Madson on Wednesday: What he's dealing with in his surgically repaired elbow is nothing more than inflammation, and being ready for Opening Day is essentially out the window.

The former was revealed in an MRI on Tuesday that came back clean. The latter is the result of Madson being shut down 13 days ago and unable to throw again for another week, when he will be re-evaluated.

Madson won't dismiss pitching the ninth inning on April 1 in Cincinnati, but he's no longer in a race against time to make it back by then.

"That's what I was going towards, and it maybe got me in a little bit of trouble," Madson said. "Now I don't have a date in mind. I just want to let my arm take me and guide me."

Madson, who underwent Tommy John surgery on April 11 of last year, first felt uncommon soreness in his elbow during his fourth bullpen session of the offseason on Feb. 1. Since then, he's only been getting treatment. For the next seven days, he'll be on a strengthening program.

"I'm just going to listen to the trainers and my arm, especially, and just let it do its thing and not try to put any limits or goals on it," said Madson, who signed an incentive-laden one-year contract this winter. "But I can't wait to go out on the field and pitch in a game. I want everybody to know that, the fans to know that -- I am eager to get out there, and that's what got me in trouble in the first place."

The Angels don't want to rush his recovery, so they'll wait until all the swelling subsides before allowing him to pick up a baseball again.

"I think that what he has is definitely manageable," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's just going to be a matter of following some protocol to make sure he doesn't do a little too much, too soon. He's hopefully going to feel better fairly quickly."

If Madson starts the season on the disabled list -- all but a certainty at this point -- Ernesto Frieri would probably be the closer, with Sean Burnett, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen the other options in the relief corps' back end.

Madson's temporary absence would also create an additional opening in the bullpen, with Michael Kohn, Garrett Richards, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, David Carpenter and Bobby Cassevah (out of options) among an eclectic group competing.

"I think there's depth there," Scioscia said, "and Ryan is a guy that can really solidify some roles down there and we look forward to that. I think from Day 1, we should be in a position to hold leads better than we did last year. And we expect Ryan to eventually be part of that."