MINNEAPOLIS — Ryan Madson took the most significant step yet in his return from Tommy John surgery, completing a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday in which he said he threw all three of his pitches "with conviction, with extension and without one bit of pain."
The right-hander, who missed all of spring training because of a sore elbow, is scheduled to throw to hitters Friday. He expects to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment next week and hopes to be activated by May 1.
"This is the closest I've felt to being normal," said Madson, who had a 4-2 record and 2.37 earned run average and 32 saves for Philadelphia in 2011. "I felt great today. No issues at all. I feel like I can throw in a game tonight if I had to."
With setup man Kevin Jepsen on the disabled list and Garrett Richards moved into the rotation to replace the injured Jered Weaver, the Angels bullpen is in dire need of a reliable right-hander to pair with closer Ernesto Frieri.
Manager Mike Scioscia said Madson's role upon his return is still to be determined.
"We'll evaluate how he's throwing and where he fits in," Scioscia said.
Madson is fine with that.
"The way Ernie has thrown, to be thrown into the fire, I don't know," he said. "It's totally up to them. I'm here for a reason, but I just want to pitch and get outs."
The Angels defused speculation they were pursuing former closer Troy Percival, possibly as a replacement for pitching coach Mike Butcher. And Percival said no one has contacted him directly about a job with the team.
Percival, in his first season as coach at Moreno Valley High, said he received a call from his agent, Paul Cohen, saying the Angels "made an inquiry." But Cohen then left for vacation and Percival hasn't spoken to him since.
Foxsports.com, citing a major league source, reported that a third party contacted Percival about a coaching job.
"I figured if there was anything to it, they would have called me because I talk to Tim all the time," Percival said, referring to Tim Mead, Angels vice president of communications. "I didn't read much into it."
Percival, who amassed 358 saves and helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series, has served as a guest instructor during spring training.
Percival wants to coach in the big leagues but said he wants to spend at least two or three years reviving the program at Moreno Valley.
A forecast that calls for a 90% chance of rain could wipe out Wednesday night's series finale with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The teams could play Thursday, but there is an 80% chance of rain and snow that day.
If a game is canceled, the teams probably wouldn't play until Sept. 9, an off day for both clubs and the day before the Angels open a three-game series at Toronto.
Scioscia, Butcher and catchers Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger held a lengthy closed-door meeting Tuesday with right-hander Joe Blanton, who has a record of 0-3 with an 8.59 ERA. "It was just a conversation, no real message," Blanton said. "They want me to get back to the things I was doing in spring training." … An initial MRI test on Jepsen's strained shoulder was normal, but the reliever underwent further tests.