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Cordero to Take Bereavement Leave to Visit Dying Grandmother

Some sad news this morning.

The Nationals placed closer Chad Cordero on the bereavement list, a move made so the 25-year-old could return to his home town of Chino, Calif., and be with his dying grandmother.

Cordero said this morning in a phone interview that he was scheduled to fly home from Milwaukee at 2:15 p.m. He has been dealing with the impending death of Josie Cordero, 76, from brain cancer for the past two weeks. Cordero said his grandmother was read her last rites yesterday.

"It's been tough," Cordero said. "I try to do my best. I try not to let it affect me during the game. But before the game, and when I got back home, it's tough. You always have it on your mind. You're always waiting for that phone call. Yesterday, I sat in the clubhouse the first four innings waiting for that call. Luckily, it didn't come."

By being placed on the bereavement list, Cordero must miss a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven before returning to the club. The Nationals called up right-hander Winston Abreu from Class AAA Columbus to take Cordero's spot on the roster. Abreu had allowed only one run over 18 innings in 10 appearances - a 0.50 ERA - for the Clippers.

Cordero said his grandmother was diagnosed with brain cancer last June. "We knew she probably didn't have more than a year to live," he said.

But three weeks ago, she attempted to drive her car - "which she wasn't supposed to do," Cordero said. She fell down while getting in the car, breaking her hip.

"They told us she probably was on the ground for an hour," Cordero said. "Ever since then, she's been getting worse."

Cordero said he would likely return to the team Monday. The Nationals also have one more roster move to make today when they activate right-hander Jason Simontacchi, who will pitch tonight against the Brewers, trying to help the club snap a six-game losing streak.

Cordero first talked about his grandmother's condition Sunday, after he blew a save against the Chicago Cubs in a game the Nationals eventually lost, 4-3.

So, with that unfortunate development, we'll have some interesting questions for Manny Acta in a couple hours.

(Also, for anyone thinking about last night's Chris Capuano (Duke guy) special, here's all the info you need. Game story, with info on Logan and Guzman. The one underplayed element there: A fine outing from Matt Chico, who threw a bad 1-0 slider to Geoff Jenkins in the second, one Jenkins pounded for a three-run homer, the only runs in the game. Chico did well to finish seven innings with that as the only damage. He threw strikes. A lesson for him: Throw strikes, and you might do OK. Here's the notebook, with a small chat with Jason Simontacchi on tonight's start. And here's the podcast, with a bunch of babbling from me but some good talks with the players.)

So, the main question for Acta:

Who will close in Cordero's absence? The logical guess/choice is Jon Rauch, but it'll be interesting to see in what capacity they use Abreu. Chris Booker, not Abreu, has been the closer in Columbus, so my guess is Rauch will be the man.

We'll also check in on any developments with John Patterson. Oh, and a thought for tomorrow's game: Yes, Jason Bergmann will be on the mound for Washington. But he'll be opposed by Claudio Vargas. Have you seen Vargas's numbers? He's 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Hmmm. Why can't the Nationals find guys like that? (Oh, that's right. They did have Vargas. He was designated for assignment in May 2005, with these numbers: 0-3, 9.24 ERA. He was acquired by Milwaukee from Arizona, who picked him up when the Nats let him go, this offseason, the deal that sent Doug Davis to the Diamondbacks.)

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 8, 2007; 12:17 PM ET
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Next: Some Moves to Come Pregame


This is definiitely the right thing for the Nationals to do for Cordero. This may be what has affected his pitching the whole season. A pitcher, more than any other player, needs to have all his focus and concentration on the game and that has got to be hard to do when you are worried about a dying relative.I had wondered what was wrong with Cordero and this makes sense. Since I refuse to give up on John Patterson, I will not give up on Chad Cordero either.

Posted by: thunderstrucknatsfan | May 8, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

That was close Barry. You almost got scooped by Juan-John!

Posted by: NatsNut | May 8, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, 23 minutes since the release of the Cordero Report, and no sign of swanni. What gives?

Posted by: section 406 | May 8, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

That's very sad news and we share Chad's grief with him in a way.

In that same way, I'm glad the nature my job doesn't make details of my personal life so very public.

As for the baseball perspective, it will be nice to have a confirmed AAA quality pitcher on the team.

Barry, can you look up how many leadoff walks Abreu has issued?

Posted by: i hate walks | May 8, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Please pass along my deepest condolences to Chad and his family.

Posted by: JennX | May 8, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

i hate walks: Look it up yourself!

Posted by: Evil Barry | May 8, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

We wish Chad the best and hope Winston does the most with this opportunity...

Does anyone know what the deal is with Larry Broadway? He has not played in several of the last clipper games and what is strange to me is that Jennings (batting .051) is starting there and they haven't called up Josh Whitesell from AA (batting .360) I've heard Whitesell is a defensive liability but this seems strange.

Posted by: erichardman | May 8, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The Clippers put Larry Broadway on the 7-day DL beginning May 1.....that's why he hasn't been in the last few games

(I don't remember what the DL reason was, tho)

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | May 8, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Barry probably got the same MLB cellphone alert at the same time I did, although being a good reporter he had to, well, report before writing.

I, on the other hand, as a fan, am under no such silly restrictions. :-)

But kudos to Barry for getting all that info out so fast!

And seriously, Barry, give Chad our condolences when he gets back.

Posted by: Juan-John | May 8, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The Chief will be back -- stronger than ever.

Posted by: swanni | May 8, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

BTW, how is Fick doing? Our best to him, too.

Posted by: cevans | May 8, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Wait. Did I miss something. What's wrong with Fick?

Posted by: NatsNut | May 8, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey Barry, what about the first two syllables on Simontacchi's name? We got the last two syllables (rhymes with scratchy) but do the first two syllabels rhyme with 'time-un' or 'him-un'??

Posted by: NatsNut | May 8, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Jason Simontacchi | May 8, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut: Fick's mom is gravely ill with lung cancer.

Posted by: Hendo | May 8, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Barry: "They did have Vargas. He was designated for assignment in May 2005, with these numbers: 0-3, 9.24 ERA."

... Vargas was an afterthought in Montreal. As with so many guys, he started with promise, but settled into a so-so rut.

... but your comparison brings up a rather distasteful thought in me. I have always liked Randy St. Clair and think he is a very good pitching coach. So I am quite reticent to say that the Brewer's coach was able to get out of Claudio what Randy couldn't. What do you think of that particular scenario: that someone is not so good under a good coach, then goes somewhere else and lights it up. How much can we really attribute to coaching and how much to an individual's own development?

... as far as that goes, how much can we point fingers at Mitchell Page for the Nat's lack of hitting, and how much falls squarely on the player himself?

Posted by: david f watts | May 8, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

My condolences to Chad and his family. Brain cancer is an awful, horrible disease.

Posted by: Eric | May 8, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"...What do you think of that particular scenario: that someone is not so good under a good coach, then goes somewhere else and lights it up. How much can we really attribute to coaching and how much to an individual's own development?"

That'd be a good question to ask the Mets' Endy Chavez...

Posted by: Juan-John | May 8, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

My condolences to Chad and his family. I've also been wondering how things are going for Fick.

Posted by: natsfan1a | May 9, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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