- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

LOS ANGELES | Chad Cordero will fly back to the District this week, gather his belongings, hang out with teammates for a few days and then return to his Southern California home to rehabilitate his injured right shoulder.

One last trip to the District to say goodbye to the Nationals for good? Not necessarily.

“For me, it’s not goodbye at all,” Cordero said Saturday. “I love the city. I love the coaches. And I love the players. I want to come back, but that’s just something I’m not going to worry about until that day.”

That day is Dec. 12, the deadline for major league clubs to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. The Nationals don’t intend to do that with Cordero, who through the system would be guaranteed a minimum of $4.96 million, far more than the organization wants to spend on a pitcher coming back from major surgery.

Cordero understands that. From the moment he found out he had a torn labrum and would miss the rest of 2008, he had a hunch that this scenario would play out.

But Cordero didn’t expect general manager Jim Bowden to announce this plan on the radio without first informing him or his agent.

Which explains why Cordero, as he sat in the visitors’ dugout at Dodger Stadium on Saturday afternoon with his arm in a sling, still had the look of someone betrayed by the only franchise for which he has pitched.

“All he had to do was call my agent and tell him he was going to make an announcement, and everything would be good,” Cordero said. “But the whole fact it was done without contacting myself or my agent really was what got both of us upset.”

Bowden revealed the plan to non-tender his closer during a Wednesday interview on AM-980. Cordero’s father, Ed, heard about it from a friend Thursday and passed on the news to his son, who was stunned. Friday, Bowden called both Cordero and agent Larry Reynolds and apologized.

That phone call went a long way toward appeasing Cordero, who according to those who know him well was ready to walk away from the Nationals altogether before the conversation.

Now, he at least sounds willing to keep the door open.

“I really did appreciate the fact that he did call me yesterday to apologize,” Cordero said. “That did make me feel a little bit better. I’m still disappointed in how it was done, but I do respect the fact that he was able to give myself and my agent a call and to apologize.”

No matter who he signs with this winter, Cordero faces a long recovery from his surgery, even though it proved not to be as serious as originally feared. After learning from orthopedist Lewis Yocum that he had torn both his labrum and biceps and had a bone spur in the back of his shoulder, Cordero figured he would be out as much as 18 months.

Yocum, though, insisted the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been and told the 26-year-old he could be fully healed in time for spring training.

“As long as everything goes well in rehab, I’ll be back,” Cordero said.

Cordero also has become resigned to the fact that he was bound to get hurt eventually. He figures he already had a small tear in his shoulder before this season, then caused more damage as he tried to pitch in April. Once he tore the latissimus dorsi muscle in the back of his shoulder, he knew what probably lay ahead.

“Something was going to give out eventually,” he said. “Because the arm just isn’t made to throw in that kind of motion.”

Cordero is past the point of rehashing the how and why of his injury. He’s not feeling sorry for himself, and he’s determined now to work his way back and pitch on Opening Day 2009.

Whether it’s for the Nationals or not.

“There’s still a possibility we can work it out,” he said. “This is just one little incident. I’ve never had any problems with anybody on the team or any of the front-office people. It just was one incident that made me upset. So I’m not going to hold that against the franchise or anything.

“Shoot, this franchise gave me my opportunity to be able to come up here. They drafted me … so I’m real thankful for what the organization has allowed me to do.”

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