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Hail to the Chief again

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Hail to the Chief again

Chad Cordero always figured he'd stand on the mound at Nationals Park in 2012 and fire a pitch toward the plate. He just never figured he'd do it wearing shorts and flip-flops, nor that he'd do it 10 minutes before the actual first pitch of a game was thrown.

"It's just kind of weird to put on a Nationals jersey in general," Cordero said with a laugh this afternoon. "I never thought I'd be able to come back here and throw out a first pitch. It's cool. It's unbelievable."

Four years removed from his last in-game appearance at Nationals Park and a year removed from his retirement announcement, Cordero was back in D.C. tonight, honored by his former team before it played the Braves.

Still the Nationals' all-time leader (by leaps and bounds) with 113 career saves, Cordero's career came to a screeching halt in April 2008 when he tore the labrum in his right shoulder. Not tendered a contract by former general manager Jim Bowden following the season, the reliever did recover and return to the big leagues with the Mariners in 2010, but made only nine appearances.

After a failed attempt to make another comeback with the Blue Jays last season, Cordero decided to call it a career. He wanted to spend more time with his wife, Jamie, and their children, especially after the couple lost daughter Tehya to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2010.

But a few months ago, Cordero (still only 30) admittedly got "the itch" to return to the mound. He's since lost 40 pounds and worked his arm back into shape. His plan: Play winter ball and hope to sign on with a professional organization for next spring.

"I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get back up here," he said. "I'm willing to start off at Double-A, Triple-A. Even if I have to go to independent ball just to prove I can pitch again, I'm going to do whatever it takes to hopefully one day make it back to the big leagues and stick again."

Cordero still closely follows and roots for the organization that made him a first-round draft pick in 2003 and gave him the opportunity to save a franchise-record 47 games only two years later.

Which is why he couldn't wait to pull a flat-brimmed, red curly W cap over his eyes this evening, walk to the mound, wave to a crowd that cheered and chanted his nickname "Chief" and then throw out the ceremonial first pitch to reliever Drew Storen.

"I still have a connection here, and I want to see them succeed," he said. "I try to follow them as much as possible. I still love it here. The Nationals were my family for four years, and you can't just cut ties with your family."

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

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Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.

Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.

On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.

But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.

Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.

Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways

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