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03/24/12 4:19 PM ET

Elbow injury sidelines Madson for season

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Before Ryan Madson got to pitch in a game for the Reds, the season is already over for the club's new closer.

Following an examination in Cincinnati on Saturday morning, the club said that Madson's elbow ligament had torn off the bone. Madson will need season-ending Tommy John surgery. A date for the surgery has not been set.

"He obviously feels terrible about it," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "He felt fine all spring until lately. Even after he sat out a little bit, he felt real good. After his last session the other day, it got real tight. Even before he left yesterday, he said he felt fine. Obviously, he wasn't."

Madson had not pitched in any Cactus League games, because of what was originally diagnosed as right elbow irritation in late February. The injury, which he said was something he had dealt with in past springs with the Phillies, was not considered serious by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. It was Kremchek who also made Saturday's diagnosis.

In recent weeks, the news had been positive about Madson's progress. He pitched in a few side bullpen sessions with gradually increased pitch counts. On Tuesday, he threw 20 pitches in a simulated game.

"Dr. Kremchek said from the way he was bleeding and stuff, it was a recent tear," Jocketty said.

Considered one of the club's prized offseason acquisitions in its efforts to reach the playoffs in 2012, Madson came to the Reds at a relative bargain with a one-year, $8.5 million contract. He was to be paid $6 million this season, and he had an $11 million mutual option for '13 that carried a $2.5 million buyout. A physical was successfully completed before the contract was finalized.

The Reds did not take out insurance on the contract, because it is club policy not to to have insurance on one-year contracts.

"You feel terrible for him, because he feels terrible," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It makes you sick to your stomach, actually.

"There's nothing we can do about it now. We know the problem. Now we have to come up with a solution. You can't solve the problem right now. In life, period, it's how you handle disappointments and how you adjust and how you handle adversity. It's a sign of a champion."

Baker and Jocketty addressed the Reds in a closed-door meeting before a pair of split-squad games on Saturday afternoon.

"It's obviously not great news," Jocketty said. "But we told the team and said to stay positive. We have good alternatives we can turn to. Others clubs have done it in the past. I did it in St. Louis. When Izzy [Jason Isringhausen] went down, Wainwright stepped in and we won the World Series. Madson got the job because Lidge got hurt [with the Phillies]. Is it the ideal thing? No. But you have to stay positive."

Madson saved 32 of 34 games while posting a 2.37 ERA over 62 games last season with the Phillies.

Jocketty and Baker did not name a replacement for the closer's role. The primary candidate would seem to be left-hander Sean Marshall, who has been one of baseball's top setup men the past two seasons. Cincinnati acquired Marshall from the Cubs in a December trade, and signed him to a three-year extension through 2015 last month.

"Dusty, Bryan [Price, the pitching coach], myself and the rest of the staff will determine that in the next few weeks," Jocketty said. "He'll probably be a candidate."

On Friday, after Madson left camp for Cincinnati, Marshall was prepared to step up to the closer's role if needed.

"I think all of us would love the opportunity to pitch in the ninth inning and help the team win the game," Marshall said. "I've done it a couple of times the last couple of years, filling in for a guy that was either tired or hurt. I enjoy closing the game out, especially in a win. I like contributing to a victory."

The situation could also mean that lefty Aroldis Chapman, who is auditioning for the fifth starter's spot in camp, could return to a bullpen role. Chapman made his scheduled start for the Reds on Saturday in a split-squad game vs. the Padres.

"Maybe," Jocketty said. "It's one of the things we'll sort through here the next week or so. ... We'll be fine. Obviously it's not what we wanted, but we do have some very positive alternatives."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.