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04/10/08 10:38 PM ET

Madson chalks up soreness to overuse

Reliever hopes to avoid injuries that cut short his '07 campaign

NEW YORK -- With five days of perspective, Ryan Madson has a theory on why his shoulder is tender so early in the season.

"Maybe it was too much, too early," Madson said.

By that, the right-hander feels his workload in Cincinnati played a part in his missing nearly a week. He threw 23 pitches on April 3, then returned to toss 35 pitches the next night over two innings.

While Madson understands his role as a multiple-innings pitcher on consecutive days makes him a vital part of the bullpen -- and he relishes that role -- he's also trying to protect his arm.

"If we could have monitored it a little like I wanted to prior to the season, I don't think I'd be in this situation," said Madson, who returned to action with a scoreless seventh inning on Thursday against the Mets. "I think it was just the number of pitches, throwing back-to-back days, on 100-percent-effort pitches, not like Spring Training."

Madson's concern stems from a shoulder strain that cost him the final two months of 2007, and he doesn't want a repeat of that with so much season left. May or June is another story.

Making it a more difficult dilemma is that Madson said he didn't feel any discomfort until after Friday's game.

"It's very tough, especially when I didn't feel anything during the game," Madson said. "I knew I threw a lot of pitches [April 3] and in the first inning [April 4], that's where sometimes I have to be a little selfish and say, 'No. Someone else needs to throw, because we have plenty of [guys] out there.'

"It's been brought up [with pitching coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel]. I don't know where they're at on it. I know where I'm at and I'm going to protect myself. I'm not going to be able to go two innings and then come back and go two innings again right now -- because I don't want to be away from this team like I was last year."

While Manuel and Dubee are aware of Madson's concerns, they want to call on their best players when necessary. "Do I need him as a multiple-innings guy? Yeah, but we also need someone else that can do it," Manuel said. "It's tough when players tell you how much they can play and how much they can pitch. That doesn't sound right to me."

"When does he want to pitch? Once a week? Once a month?" added Dubee, sarcastically. "We're concerned about him, but sometimes, unfortunately, you only have so many pitchers out there. Sometimes you have to work around things. Sometimes a guy has to get through an inning to save somebody else."

"He should be concerned," Dubee said. "He's coming off an injury last year and he's now having a setback. We're aware of it, too. We're not going to send him to the wolves, believe me. Ryan will be fine. I don't plan on using him for 150 pitches."

In other pitching news, Kris Benson has resumed throwing off a mound, though he hasn't faced hitters. Dubee said he hopes Benson can appear in a Minor League game sometime in the next two weeks.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.