One of the happiest stories of Nationals spring training isn’t happening at Nationals spring training. It is happening three time zones away, in the Arizona desert, each time a pitcher so skinny you may not recognize him takes the mound. The flat brim, though, would be a dead giveaway.
More than two years since his last big league appearance, and seven years since he helped reintroduce Washington to how good baseball can be, Chad Cordero is trying to come back. The Angels, his hometown team, promoted him to major league camp yesterday. The day before, Cordero yielded a home run on the first pitch he threw. He was okay with that.
“I know everything is going to come back,” Cordero said, according to the Associated Press. “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, now 31, is the closest thing the Nationals have to an all-time great. In 2005, the year baseball came back and shook the stands at RFK, Cordero walked tightropes all summer and saved 47 games. He weighed 225 pounds then; he told the AP this week he now weighs 188.
Anyone who knows Cordero’s story is rooting for him to defy the odds and make the Angels, his hometown team. Cordero’s shoulder betrayed him and forced him out of the majors by 2008. He made it back to the majors in 2010. That winter, he lost his 11-week-old daughter, Tehya, to sudden infant death syndrome.
He played independent ball in 2011, then retired. Last year, when he threw out a first pitch at Nationals Park, Cordero shared his intentions of making a comeback. The odds are against him, but Washington, surely, is with him.
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FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
The Nats play the Mets at 6:05 p.m. in Viera. MASN will broadcast the game, which Stephen Strasburg will start.
DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY