Chief Throws, Nats Watch
When the Nationals unceremoniously dismissed injured closer Chad Cordero last year, they made clear they remained interested in re-signing their former all-star - just not at the $5 million or so he might have earned via arbitration had they held onto his rights.
It turns out the Nationals are following through on that statement. They were one of the teams who had a scout watching Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif., as Cordero, rehabbing from shoulder surgery, threw about 40 pitches at "70- to 75-percent" effort, according to agent Larry Reynolds.
"They've been showing up," Reynolds said of the Nationals.
Reynolds declined to address the identities of the other teams in attendance, or even the number of teams that have shown interest. According to various media reports, the Rangers, Brewers and Tigers have all been monitoring Cordero's progress.
"A couple of teams are getting antsy and talking about signing him right now," Reynolds said, "but we think it's better to get him closer to full strength first. The one consensus we got from [scouts at Wednesday's throwing session] is he's certainly not hurt. He's throwing free and easy, and now just a matter of getting in shape, getting stronger.
"We feel like there's going to be a pretty good closer coming on the [free agent] market here shortly."
Reynolds said scouts were told not to bother putting radar guns on Cordero during the mound session, because "this isn't about trying to go out there and throw 90 miles an hour and impress everyone."
Cordero, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum last July 8 after making only six appearances for the Nationals, should be at "full tilt" in another three or four weeks, Reynolds said, which could put him on pace to be ready to pitch in big league games by April.
"He's right on pace - probably ahead of pace," Reynolds said. "It's certainly not going to be July or August, as was indicated before."
The Nationals have acknowledged concern about their bullpen, which they did not address this winter. As things stand, right-hander Joel Hanrahan is expected to begin the season as closer.
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