VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals signed pitcher Dan Cortes to a minor league deal this past offseason with the hope that the hard-throwing right-hander would be able to give them depth at the top of their minor league system.
Unfortunately, Cortes was unable to pass his physical with the Nationals so the deal was voided, a source with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday. The Nationals still like the right-hander who was non-tendered by Seattle this offseason after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair rotator cuff damage and a partial tear of his biceps tendon suffered during an off-field fall, and it’s believed they’d still have some interest in him if and when he returns to full health.
He pitched in 14 major league games for the Mariners over the course of two seasons, including 10 2/3 innings in 2011 where he gave up seven earned runs off 13 hits and six walks. At the end of the 2011 season, Cortes broke his hand during what the Seattle Times called an “off-field incident at a Seattle restaurant.”
Cortes, a 2005 seventh-round pick by the Chicago White Sox, has dealt with more than his share of off-field issues since joining professional baseball. In December of 2005 Cortes nearly died in a fight outside a bowling alley. He was stabbed eight times that night, including in the back of his head, his shoulder blade and his right arm. He was also arrested in Arkansas in 2009 on a misdemeanor charge for urinating outside of a nightclub.
Cortes was also good friends with Greg Halman, the Mariners prospect who was stabbed to death, reportedly by his brother, this past offseason. He spoke in The Netherlands at Halman’s funeral.
This from the Seattle Times:
Cortes nearly lost his life in December 2005 after being stabbed in a brawl outside a bowling alley in suburban Los Angeles trying to defend colleagues he worked with at a sporting-goods store. One of the people in his group died in the fight, initiated by three known gang members, while Cortes was stabbed eight times, including in his pitching arm, the back of his head and also his shoulder blade.
Cortes had given and taken several blows but didn’t realize he was badly hurt until his colleagues saw his bloody clothes.
“All the adrenaline was going, so I didn’t really feel anything,” said Cortes, acquired from Kansas City last summer in the Yuniesky Betancourt trade. “Then, at the hospital, the doctor was saying the cuts on my face weren’t deep enough to be causing so much blood. I had a long-sleeved shirt on, so I kind of patted my arm and could feel this hole, this open wound near my triceps. My first instinct was to put my finger in the hole and it went all the way through my arm. I said, ‘I think I got stabbed.’ “
Cortes was rushed to the trauma ward.
“The doctor told me that had the knife gone a millimeter closer to my lung, it would have been punctured and that would have been it,” Cortes said.
Then came (2009), when, after a disappointing spring, Cortes was arrested in Arkansas on a misdemeanor charge of urinating outside a nightclub. Cortes now says the whole thing was a mistake and that he was innocent.
But the Royals still traded him a week later. Cortes decided to plead guilty and get on with his career with Seattle rather than interrupt his season to fly back to Arkansas to fight the relatively minor accusation.