You never want to hear this kind of news about a pitcher, let alone a guy whose entire career is predicated on the drastic difference between his fastball and change-up.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via MLBTradeRumors) is reporting that a ligament in Ryan Madson's right arm has been torn off the bone. The injury has Madson opting for Tommy John surgery, which, of course, will force him to miss the 2012 season.
Madson had been suffering from a sore pitching elbow throughout spring training, though it's now apparent he was dealing with more than the average aches and pains so common for pitchers in March.
The timing of this injury could not be worse for Madson, who failed to lock down a multi-year contract in free agency last year and, instead, opted for a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Reds so as to potentially test the market anew next season.
Rather than lobbying for the Jonathan Papelbon money he was reportedly shooting for this past winter, Madson will be negotiating his next contract as a pitcher coming off major surgery.
As for the team he's spent his entire career with, it's difficult to say whether Madson would have suffered this same fate had he worked out a deal with the Phils. In that sense, Buster Olney perhaps puts it best:
There's no telling when Madson's ligament might've gone, but you'd have to think the Phillies are counting themselves lucky today.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 24, 2012
Lucky being the operative and (as we'll have to wait and see with Papelbon) relative word.
If there's good news, it's that pitchers coming off successful Tommy John surgeries can and have retained their pre-surgery velocity. The bad news, obviously, is that Madson's UCL is damaged. The hope, in this case, is that the surgery can repair the ligament to the point that any potential decreases in arm strength would come over time, as they naturally would, rather than being expedited.
Good luck in the recovery, Mad Dog. Be well.