Back in spring training, Chad Cordero thought about how many games he might save in his first full season as a major league closer.
"Thirty would have been great," Cordero said. "I would've been happy with anywhere between 25 and 30."
So the 47 he has entering the final game of the season today is astonishing. The total will lead all of baseball, is a franchise record, and provided what Cordero called a "dream" season.
"I did stuff I thought I'd never do," Cordero said. "It was totally unexpected."
Cordero struggled in September, blowing three saves in seven opportunities, posting an ERA of 10.36 for the month. But Manager Frank Robinson said the fact that Cordero wore down shouldn't taint his season.
"There's no way you could've asked more of him," Robinson said.
No pitcher had more save opportunities than Cordero's 54. And even though Robinson said Cordero, who appeared in 73 games, would be shut down last week, Cordero came to him yesterday and said he wanted to pitch in one of the last two games if he was needed.
Cordero will spend the offseason at his house in Fullerton, Calif. "I don't plan on leaving there very much," he said. He will take some time off, then begin running in November. He also plans to strengthen his right shoulder so that he might hold up to a heavy workload.
"I want to come back and do this again," he said.
The 2006 schedule the Nationals distributed to fans at yesterday's game, and to the media on Friday, contains two errors. A two-game series on May 3-4 against Florida is in Washington, not Miami. And a three-game series against the Braves from Aug. 25-27 is in Atlanta, rather than at home, as is shown on the schedule. The Nationals begin the season with 28 of their first 42 games on the road.
"Brutal," Robinson said. "I thought it would be a little more balanced. That's tough."