Shoulder Tear Ends Season For Cordero

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

MIAMI, June 30 -- For Washington Nationals relief pitcher Chad Cordero, a season held back by slow velocity and then slow rehab progress finally derailed. On Monday, an arthrogram revealed a right labrum tear, a shoulder injury more serious than any previous diagnosis and one that will sideline Cordero for the rest of the year.

Los Angeles-based orthopedist Lewis Yocum will perform the yet-unscheduled surgery, which requires months of rehab and leads to questions about the injury Cordero originally tried to pitch through.

Asked if Cordero has likely been pitching with the torn labrum all season, pitching coach Randy St. Claire said: "I think he probably was, because he said it didn't hurt, but we didn't see the velocity. Normally with Chad -- he wasn't a mile or two off. He was 10 miles per hour off. He said there was no pain, so we thought it was maybe just weak."

Cordero, 26, has dealt all season with shoulder issues -- first tendinitis, which prompted him to miss two weeks in early April. When he returned, the problems remained. His velocity lagged in the low 80s. He looked nothing like the pitcher who'd stabilized the Washington bullpen, averaging 38 saves from 2005 to 2007. Shortly after his appearance on April 29 against Atlanta, the team placed Cordero on the disabled list again, this time terming the injury a right latissimus dorsi muscle tear. Numerous arthrograms and MRI exams revealed no damages beyond that.

So, Cordero tried to rehab. On June 10, he headed to the team's training complex in Viera, Fla. In moments, he showed progress -- General Manager Jim Bowden was encouraged by one trip to see him -- but of late, Cordero felt soreness. The test Monday means that Cordero will face rehab that could extend into next year.

"It's really unfortunate, because we have missed him so bad this first half," Manager Manny Acta said.

It's possible that during rehab in Florida Cordero aggravated his shoulder just enough that the labrum tear finally revealed itself on an arthrogram. But the team doesn't think that Cordero would have suffered the injury simply on account of the light throwing program he was following.

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