As time goes by, though, that balance becomes a little easier. And at this stage, where the 32-year-old right-hander is back to baby steps after a Feb. 1 setback, the small things still mean more. Like Sunday, when Madson was getting ready to throw off flat ground on back-to-back days for the second time in seven days.
"That means it's healing," Madson said. "The inflammation I had in the flexor pronator muscle is gone. The muscle's functioning good."
Madson wants to push it just far enough before he has another flareup, which occurred after his fourth offseason bullpen session and essentially caused him to start from scratch.
He's confident it won't happen again.
"I don't foresee that anymore," Madson said. "I feel strong, I feel good, I don't have any feelings that anything's going to come back. I'm just taking it slow."
Madson is throwing from about 90 feet, at an estimated 80 percent intensity, and anticipates being able to get back on the mound after one more week of playing catch. After Sunday, Madson figures to need six more days of throwing off flat ground -- three sets of back-to-backs -- meaning that if all goes well, he'll be throwing bullpen sessions right around mid-March, as expected.
That's when the real test will start.
"Once you get off a mound, that angle provides another stepping stone where you have to build up again, because it's a different angle," Madson said. "You're adding a little more stress because of the position you're putting your body in off the slope. I'll probably just back it down again and build back up. I think that's the proper way to do it."
The team remains hopeful Madson will be ready by the middle of April.