What it takes to start up a Major League career is unthinkable to those who haven't gone the distance, who haven't put themselves through the pain and confusion, all to reach that singular goal. Now imagine, having to do it for a second time.
Ryan Madson was there. Four years ago, at the end of spring training, a torn ligament in his elbow and subsequent Tommy John surgery stole away his entire 2012 season. The surgery itself was a success, enough so that the Angels snagged him up with a one-year deal for the 2013 season. Unfortunately, the stiffness and soreness just wouldn't leave him behind. The season bore on, and his arm wouldn't come back. Madson and the Angels tried everything they could think of to get his movement back, but to no avail. He was released on August 5th without having pitched a single MLB game.
In 2014, Madson tried again, but was only offered a smattering of minor league contracts. He was done. The spark to forge on had been extinguished. He was 33, retired and ready to stay at home full-time with his wife and kids. Baseball was a memory, and that's how it was going to stay.
And that, as things tend to do in stories, was when everything changed.
At the suggestion of a teammate, Madson had dabbled in the idea of using EVO Ultrafit, an advanced electro-therapy method (to say the least). The Angels nixed the idea, but once Madson was a free man, he decided to go back. That was when the fire came back.
The therapy sessions were long and painful, but brought the movement back in his arm that nothing else did. It wasn't a flick of a switch, it was long, hard days of training, but for Madson every step of the way was worth it. He was back in baseball, he was himself again, and Kansas City was right there to give him the boost he needed back into the majors. A year later, he's slipping on his World Series ring. And now, he's here in Oakland.
Currently 35 and on his second club after his return, Madson is stronger than ever. He hasn't shown any signs of slowing down, and his 95 mph fastball and clutch appearances so far are here to prove the A's made the right choice when they signed the 6'6", 225lb Long Beach, California native. According to EVO Ultrafit, the only thing that will stop Madson now will be his own choice to end his career. And after everything Madson put himself through, physically and mentally, to get back up on the mound, that doesn't look like it's going to be happening any time soon.
Madson has been around the block a few times when it comes to professional baseball. When he goes on a road trip nowadays, he loves a city with plenty of good eats to offer between time spent at the ballpark. Perhaps Canha can help him out on this one.
Madson and his wife, Sarah, have five children together. Five. Five whole children.
He is the nephew of former Red Sox and Rangers pitcher, Steve Barr. Steve Barr only pitched in 83.2 innings, striking out 32 and amassing a 5.16 ERA in the mid-1970s. Madson has managed to do a little better.
When Madson came back, one of the things that first hit him that he missed was getting the swag at the beginning of the season. New shoes, hats, everything to look and feel sharp as he racks up saves.
The A's signed Madson to a three-year, $22 million contract on December 11th, 2015, and if he keeps playing the way he's been, they'll be happy about every minute of the time they've got him for.
(Please excuse the quality of the drawings, fatrolf is in St. Louis for a couple days with no scanner, so the phone camera came in for the rescue. Carry on.)