Chad Cordero had been thinking about retiring for a few weeks. His comeback had taken him to independent ball, the St. Paul Saints. His surgically repaired shoulder had not been right for three years, and he still could not get his arm to feel the way he wanted it. He missed his family.
“It’s never easy to say you’re going to retire,” Cordero said today in a telephone conversation. “But I had been thinking about it for a while. It was a fairly easy decision. But it’s just tough to actually say, ‘My career is done and I’m going to move on.’ ”
Cordero made it official yesterday. The former Nationals closer, whose 2005 season owns an indelible place in D.C. baseball history, ended his last attempt at a comeback by retiring at 29.
“Just too hard to be away from the family,” Cordero said. “It just made it too hard to be away from the family, especially after what I went through with my daughter this offseason. That combined with my arm just wasn’t working the way it used to. It was time move on to the rest of my life.”
Cordero wants to coach, with no specific goal in mind other than remaining in baseball. “I still love the game, and I still want to be a part of it,” he said. “I’m open to anything.”
Cordero’s break with the Nationals in 2008 was messy, with General Manager Jim Bowden announcing on the radio – before telling Cordero and in the middle of the season – that the Nationals would not tender him a contract. Still, Cordero made peace with the situation and even hoped for a return to the Nationals.
“Even after I left, I still wanted to come back,” Cordero said. “It was tough to go through how I had to leave, deep down I always wanted to come back and play there one more year. Who knows? Maybe I’ll come back and visit a couple times, go down on the field. My wife and I, we still love the city. I still love that organization.”
Cordero looks most fondly upon 2005, when he saved 47 games and finished fifth in the Cy Young voting. Cordero remembers it not for what he did, but for how the city responded to its first baseball team in decades.
“It wasn’t just because I had a successful season,” Cordero said. “That was the first year baseball was back. It was just a magical year for that entire team. Living in that city for four years was great. I still miss that place.”
Cordero carried an unusually large burden during Nationals tenure. From 2005 to 2007, he appeared in 218 games and pitched 222 2/3 innings. The wear showed when he underwent major shoulder surgery at the outset of the 2008 season. He was never the same since, but already he has made peace with that, too.
“I may have struggled my last year or so. I’m not going to worry about that,” Cordero said. “I had a really good career. It was shortened by injuries. But I had a really good time playing. Baseball, I still love it. I just kind of lost that edge as a player. I still love the game.”