Madson throws off flat ground after setback

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Potential Angels closer Ryan Madson threw off flat ground for six minutes on Monday morning, picking up a baseball for the first time since being shut down 18 days earlier.

Madson was progressing well from Tommy John surgery, getting in four bullpen sessions prior to the start of camp. But inflammation and soreness from his Feb. 1 session got him off the mound, led to an MRI that came back clean, put him on a strengthening program for about a week and basically forced him to start from scratch.

There's still no telling when he'll get back on the mound.

"He's going to start from the beginning of his throwing program, just activating the arm," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "How long it takes, I don't know, but he won't be throwing a bullpen for a while, until he can get out there and stretch his arm out a little bit. How long that takes, I don't know. But it's not a situation where he's going to throw today and throw a bullpen in a couple days."

Opening Day is essentially out of the question for the 32-year-old right-hander, who missed all of the 2012 season with the Reds after undergoing the ligament-replacement surgery last April. If Madson can start getting into some Spring Training games by the middle of March, though, that could set him up to join the Angels' bullpen at some point in April.

It initially took Madson three months to go from tossing off flat ground to throwing a bullpen session, from September to November. It won't take that long this time. Madson believes he can play catch daily and get back on the mound by the third week, then progress toward eventually pitching in games thereafter.

"But that's just a total guess," he added.

Asked if he can still get into Spring Training games by the middle of March, which was initially the plan, Madson said: "I don't know. I really don't know the pace -- I don't know that they have it lined up. I think it's just play it by ear."