Regardless of last night's wild eighth inning against the Reds - when Ryan Madson struck out Brandon Phillips but watched helplessly as the pitch bounced past catcher Brian Schneider and allowed the tying run to score - the Phillies are thrilled to have their veteran setup man back in the fold.
Madson, who was activated from the disabled list yesterday after spending the previous 10 weeks recovering from a broken big right toe, allowed two hits and struck out three while trying to protect a 2-1 lead. But the Phillies fully expect him to establish himself as their primary eighth-inning arm.
"I feel like I'm ready," Madson, fresh off a five-game rehab assignment, said before the game. "I threw five games, kind of like a mini-spring training. It's like the start of the season again for me. That's about what it's like."
Madson has been one of the most consistent relievers in the National League over the last six seasons, posting a 3.85 ERA and averaging 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.8 walks per nine from 2004-09. The 29-year-old righthander started the season filling in for injured closer Brad Lidge and recorded three straight saves before blowing two of his next three opportunities.
One of those blown saves led to his trip to the disabled list. After allowing a game-tying run in the 10th inning in San Francisco on April 28, Madson kicked a chair in the dugout at AT & T Park and broke his toe. The injury required surgery to insert pins into his foot. He had them removed after 4 weeks and has been steadily working his way back since.
The foot has not been an issue for several weeks. Madson said he spent his final couple of rehab outings fine-tuning his delivery, which he hopes will help him avoid the sort of struggles that led to his stay on the DL.
"Mechanically, I've just cleaned up some things," said Madson, who has posted a 3.28 ERA in 202 appearances since the start of 2007. "I've taken the games at Lehigh and Reading to address those, and hopefully I go out there and it's just there, I don't have to think about it. Everything will work smoothly if I can do that."
During Madson's absence, veteran righthander Jose Contreras assumed the bulk of the setup duties. The 38-year-old, who is in his first season as a full-time reliever, was dominant in April and May, allowing one earned run with 22 strikeouts and two walks in 15 1/3 innings.
Last night, Brad Lidge blew a save in ninth inning prompting Contreras to enter the game in the 10th. That's a lot later than the Phillies expect to use him now that Madson is back.
"Contreras will go in there in the seventh or eighth sometimes," Charlie Manuel said before the game. "Madson will definitely be eighth and he'll close every now and then if Lidge has gone 2 or 3 days [in a row] or thrown a lot of pitches."
The Phillies made several roster moves to accommodate Ryan Madson, designating Double A outfielder Quintin Berry for assignment to make room for him on the 40-man roster, and sending lefty Mike Zagurski back to Triple A to open a spot on the active roster. The Phillies also outrighted infielder Brian Bocock to Lehigh Valley.
Zagurski, who broke into the big leagues with the Phillies early in 2007 but missed much of the next 2 years with hamstring and elbow injuries, appeared in five games since his call-up on June 22, allowing two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings while striking out eight and walking three.
Lefthander J.A. Happ, activated from the disabled list and then optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, will make his first start for the IronPigs tonight in Syracuse.