Closer Ryan Madson's first season with the Cincinnati Reds was declared over on Saturday before it had even started as the National League club said he needed season-ending surgery for a torn ligament in his pitching elbow.
Madson, the former Philadelphia Phillies reliever, had signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Reds in the off season.
The right-hander had not pitched in any of the Cactus League spring training games in Arizona because of what was originally diagnosed as right elbow irritation.
Madson appeared to be making progress in recent weeks, increasing the number of pitches he threw in practice sessions before he was sidelined again after throwing 20 pitches in a game on Tuesday.
Last season he saved 32 of 34 games and posted a 2.37 earned run average with the Phillies.
The leading candidate to take over from Madson could be left-hander Sean Marshall who has been one of baseball's best setup men for the past two seasons.
Marshall is also new to the Reds pitching staff, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs in December.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, editing by Tony Jimenez)