Madden joins Alaskans in Amarillo [Baseball]

February 13, 2013
Corey Madden

He was ready to hang ‘em up. Retire. Walk away.

Frustrated with free agency after seven strong seasons in pro ball, including two stints at Triple-A in 2011 and 2012, 28-year-old pitcher Corey Madden of Anchorage waited for the phone to ring.

But nobody called and he began to think about life after baseball.

“I was ready to start coaching, giving back,” he told me.

Then he got a call from a familiar voice. It was his high school pitching coach Dennis Machado offering him a job with the Amarillo Sox of the American Association.

“I didn’t even know their mascot,” Madden said.

But he knows baseball.

“Being a free agent is nerve-wrecking because you always hope that a major league-affiliate will sign you to a minor-league contract,” he said. “I kind of realized that teams weren’t into me as much as I had hoped, which I understand the business and how they probably didn’t want to take a chance on a guy who got injured.”

Madden, of East High fame, played in only 17 games last season at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

Since 2006, he has pitched in 206 professional games, earning 19 wins, 13 saves and a 3.05 ERA in 298 innings. He has been used primarily a setup man, meaning he is the eighth-inning guy when his team is ahead.

He played for Triple-A New Orleans in each of the last two seasons, a heartbeat from the big leagues.

Now he’s in an independent league – and that’s just fine with Madden.

“I’m excited to keep playing. I will give it one last shot,” he said. “I could try and get a real job, but nothing compares to baseball.”

In Amarillo, Madden joins fellow pitcher Joey Newby of Soldotna and Machado, the Sox pitching coach.

“Newby called me a few times in an attempt to sway me,” Madden said. “He looked forward to having another Alaskan playing under another Alaskan guy, which I think is going to be awesome.”

Maybe not for Madden’s wife Crystal, though. The couple was just married in October. But after 12 years of dating, she’s used to the demands of a baseball season that’s more grind that glamorous.

“She puts up with me leaving and supports me at whatever I do,” Madden said. “I’m lucky.”