When former Nats closer Chad Cordero threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park last July, he told reporters he was set to attempt a comeback to the major leagues. Despite pitching in just nine games since 2008 and being out of the league since 2010, he still felt he had something left and wanted to give it a shot.
Now a half-year later, Cordero is proving his intuition right. The 30-year-old, who still holds the Nats’ franchise save record with 47 in 2005, was promoted to big league camp with the Angels yesterday and looks to have a real shot at sticking around. It may not hurt his cause that the Angels’ closer, Ryan Madson, is dealing with elbow discomfort and being brought along slowly by the team.
Cordero told the Associated Press he was quite nervous when he first took the mound again. It was a rocky start as he gave up a home run to that very first batter, Brendan Ryan of the Seattle Mariners. Overall, however, Cordero feels good and must have shown the team something if they decided to promote him.
''I know everything is going to come back,'' Cordero told AP. ''My arm felt great, like I had good action on it. Just getting that first one out of the way and realizing that I can do it again, that's what means the most to me. I'm not even worried about results right now. I'm just so grateful to be out there and pitching again.''
Cordero is returning after several years out of the game, but that alone doesn’t tell the entire story. The right-hander is trying to overcome several arm injuries that took him out of baseball in the first place, plus the tragedy of losing his infant daughter in 2010. All together he has a comeback story like few others.
Cordero is still relatively young and has time to make the comeback work. He says he is down 40 pounds and taking a new approach to staying in shape. He worked with the Nats’ former strength and conditioning coach, Kazu Tomooka, over the offseason and now says he weighs 188 pounds.
As Cordero continues his road back, he surely has a story to root for, and how far he goes will be interesting to watch. Who knows, maybe one day he will take the mound at Nationals Park to face his former team. Now, wouldn’t that be something.