Madson's back issues a surprise to Martinez

Closer reveals discomfort after giving up walk-off grand slam

August 13th, 2018

ST. LOUIS -- Even though he has been battling back issues on and off for the past few days, had not informed the Nationals or manager Dave Martinez, thinking he could pitch through the pain. So Martinez was "very surprised" to learn Madson told reporters about his back injury after Sunday's 4-3 walk-off loss to the Cubs.

"Yesterday was the first I've heard of it," Martinez said prior to Monday's game against the Cardinals. "Apparently, he didn't want to say anything, he wanted to pitch through it. He feels like he can pitch through it. I told him, 'You've got to be honest with me moving forward.'"

While warming up in the bullpen before pitching the ninth inning on Sunday, Madson said his back trouble began flaring up again, sending pain shooting down his right leg. He did not have control of his curveball or changeup, which reduced him to trusting only his fastball -- and deposited one into the stands for the walk-off grand slam.

Even though he has been battling the issue for a few days, Madson said Sunday was the first time it was bad enough to affect him on the mound, even though he has given up five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings in his two most recent outings.

But he believes he should be able to avoid a stint on the disabled list, and arrived at Busch Stadium early on Monday to begin receiving treatment and start taking anti-inflammatories.

"I've taken those before, and they've really worked, and quickly," he said. "I've noticed a difference in a day or two. If I can just knock the pain down a little bit, I should be fine."

Considering the state of the Nationals' bullpen, Madson may have felt added pressure to remain in the game. He has been slotted into the closer's role with and on the DL. The Nats also traded and in the past two weeks, turning a bullpen that was once a strength into a bit of a question mark. The team has dropped four of its past six games; the bullpen has posted an 8.03 ERA during that span.

Still, Martinez wished Madson had told him about his back troubles sooner. There is often a fine line for players to straddle, when they are more than four months into a season and virtually everyone is battling some sort of nagging issue, of knowing when an issue becomes too much to handle or if it can be played through.

"I would appreciate them telling me what's going on, but a lot of times they don't," Martinez said. "They feel like they can work through it, and they want to continue to help the team win. And I get it. He's been around a long time, and he knows his body better than anybody."