Sunday, March 16, 2008
Our Conversation With Chad Cordero
Chad Cordero has saved 113 Games for Our Washington Nationals during the past three seasons (4th overall during that time period). Six more saves than Mariano Rivera of The New York Yankees and just three less than Joe Nathan of The Minnesota Twins. Only Francisco Rodriguez (132) of The Los Angeles Angels and Trevor Hoffman (131) of The San Diego Padres have entered and closed out more wins for their respective teams. But you might also be surprised to read that both K-Rod and The All Time Saves Leader (Hoffman) have blown just four less opportunities than Our Number 32--during the same time frame. Yes, "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is not the only Fireman giving their fans "Cardiac Problems".
When you chalk up 128 Saves in four full seasons in the Major Leagues along with a respectable 2.79 ERA--you are doing something right. And remember--Chad Cordero has never played for a winning team. So, more times than not--any close opportunity has been a nail biter. Our Weak Hitting Washington Nationals during the first three seasons of Baseball's Return to Washington--rarely allowed "The Chief" to enter any game with a three run advantage. Yeah, I know--"The Chief Cardiologist" has been downright scary at times. But, it doesn't take away from how effective he actually has been.
Chad Cordero is one of Our Favorite Players. Sohna and I enjoy every time he heads out to the mound to pitch. You can never say the man's not interesting to watch. In Viera, Florida last month--Our Number 32 was kind enough to give us some personal time after he finished running one afternoon.
With that--here we go with Our Conversation With Chad Cordero.
Of course—you know The African Queen? (SBF)
“Yeah, who doesn’t know The African Queen (busting out laughing)!!”
I have been reading that you spent the off-season working out in an attempt to not only get in shape—but also improve your pitching game. Can we start with that effort in Frisco, Texas? (SBF)
“When I first got home (after the 2007 Season ended)—I gave myself a month off for October, then I started working out with a personal trainer—back in Fullerton (Cal-State Fullerton) and we started doing that three times per week. Also, I started to eat healthier, got on the Weight Watcher stuff. That really helped me get started.”
“Then, I went over to Frisco for two weeks to work out with (Joel) Hanrahan, Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins—and stayed with them. So, it was pretty good. I worked on my conditioning and I worked on my shoulder strength too.”
When you decided to increase your workouts, have a better regimen—any specific reason why? (SBF)
“After looking back at some old pictures of mine when I was in school—and even for ’05 (with The Nats) too, I looked a lot skinner back then—especially after seeing some other photos from last year. I didn’t look right. Basically, I needed to change things up. And if I am honest with myself—I know it will only help me in the long run—especially as I get older. The healthier I am—the longer I can play (professionally).”
In one of the reports I read—you where looking to re-gain some speed on your fastball. You believe this New You will Help You? (SBF)
“Yeah—hopefully—because the bigger you are--the more it holds you back (athletically). And--I have had some tough times toward the last part of each season the past couple of years. I was breaking down, my arm was tired—I didn’t look or play well. Lets hope—by losing some weight, eating right, working out better—I can be a better pitcher."
So—if you are on the health kick—NO MORE SLURPEES? (SBF)
(Shaking his head back and forth) “Aaaah!”
Come on—it’s your main drink. (SBF)
“I have had to cut down on Slurpees (said in a very disappointed tone). Yes, I have also cut down on my pizza intake. So, there will be no more pre-game Slurpees. Every once it a while, I will have to sneak one in behind the back of my fiancée (Jamie). She keeps on me (to stay on the health kick).
Good for her. (The African Queen)
When you are on the mound and have the rough outing—how do you deal with that after you leave the park and head home—or to the hotel? (SBF)
“For me, the way I think about it is that, that type of stuff is going to happen. Tomorrow is a new day. Probably, I will have the chance to go out there—once again—the very next day to redeem myself. I really don’t worry about it (bad outings), because EVERYONE gives up the home runs. EVERYONE blows the saves and EVERYBODY loses a game. That’s just a part of baseball; NO ONE is going to be perfect. So, I realize that—although it’s very tough (to take) when it happens. But, once I leave the ballpark—its over with—period.”
You have spent the entire off-season working on improving your game—physically, but now one of your favorite mental comfort zones—Brian Schneider—is no longer with the team. How will that affect everything for you? (SBF)
“It will be hard, no question. He is, basically, the only catcher I have ever had since I have been up here (The Majors). A couple of other guys have been in and out—but Brian has been the mainstay. Not having him here this year—will be tougher. He understood me. But, Paul (LoDuca) and Johnny (Estrada) are both great catchers. Both have been around the game for some time. They are both good. In the long run—everything should be OK.”
Although—they might not be ready for the start of the season. (SBF)
“Yes—both my not be ready for the first game or so. But, they should be OK for the rest of the season and help us out. All of the guys (catchers) on the team are pretty easy to learn. They all seem to pick me up pretty quick.”
What pitches are you looking to improve on? How is that fastball doing—realizing it’s still early? (SBF)
“Yes, I am seeing results—although I haven’t really let it go yet. It feels good and my slider is looking a lot better. In fact, my change up is looking a lot better too. Those two pitches (slider/change up) are the ones that I really needed to work on. So far, they look and feel a lot better.”
I have to ask you this—we have talked about this before. What is it with The Braves? (“Yes, it’s incredible.”) They always seem to get you? (SBF)
(Laughing—both of us) “I really have NO IDEA!! For the most part—it’s mostly been Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones. (The Jones Boys!! —The African Queen) Exactly!! (Smirking) Having them hit back to back is not the most exciting duo to face. But, now since Andruw has left (to The Dodgers), I only will have to face him once or twice per year. Chipper is still there. I don’t really know. They (The Braves) seem to pick up on something. I have thrown their hitters a slider in the dirt—and they have still hit it!! It’s been really weird.”
Andruw Jones can hit a pitch bouncing three times on way to the plate. (SBF)
There was this one time—he took you deep on a pitch you obviously couldn’t believe he hit—and your look was just incredulous (Head straight up to the sky—cap tilted back). (SBF)
(Laughing back at the moment) “Yeah, I just don’t want to look!”
Switching over to the team—what do you think about the prospects this year? (SBF)
“Good actually. With the young guys like (Matt) Chico getting a good years work under their belts—even (Shawn) Hill and (Jason) Bergmann—they are still really young. I think we are going to be pretty good. And by bringing in guys like Aaron Boone, Lastings Milledge and (Elijah) Dukes—hopefully those guys can really pick us up and help us score more runs. It also doesn’t hurt to add some of the veteran guys like LoDuca and Estrada. All those guys can hit—no matter who is batting in the lineup—we are going to be alright.”
This team can potentially score a lot of runs. (SBF)
“We are going to do a lot better—especially since we are moving into a new ballpark. We seem to have a lot more power than we have had the past couple of years. So, I think we could be good.”
Speaking of the new ballpark—are you looking forward to playing there—as compared to RFK? (The African Queen)
“Yes, I can’t wait to see it!! The Clubhouse should be a HUGE UPGRADE for us. I heard it’s like 5000 Square Feet with a hot tub. It’s going to be AWESOME!! The Clubhouse at RFK Stadium was a lot like an elementary school classroom. (Everyone busting out laughing). It was all cramped. You had such limited space for lockers, the food room, the training room, the coaches’ rooms, the bathrooms and showers. It was pretty tough to handle. So, I am very happy we are moving up. In fact, I go online all the time and check out the (Clark Construction) Webcam all the time.”
“I heard the HDTV Screen is up and running.”
Some friends of ours live a mile from the stadium. They claim—with binoculars—the screen is vivid as can possibly be. (SBF)
“I just want to go out there and play HALO or GUITAR HERO on that one!! (Funny comment and all of us chuckling).
You are a big HALO Fan. (SBF)
“I still like to play--although I have not had the chance in a month or so. It’s been kind of tough—traveling and stuff. I will get back on there soon.”
I have to ask you this about your cap. I read where you could not get the batting practice cap to flatten out like your game cap? (The African Queen)
“The Practice Hats are the tough ones. They are already bent for you. If I try to flatten them—they will bend right back up—by the end of the day. So, it’s kind of tough. These (The Red Curly “W” Gamers) are perfect. They are awesome, but the practice hats are terrible. I hate them. (Laughing)”
Do you wear an extra size to get that cap down just above your eyes? (SBF)
“No, it’s a 7 ½. I just have a huge head anyway. I like to have my head shaved. So, when I do that—the cap is sort of loose. But once my hair grows back—it’s a little tight. The fit goes back and forth—as my hair is cut and grows.”
(Everyone laughing and enjoying the moment) You’re funny. (SBF)
“Well, I try to have fun.”
Like we do. (The African Queen)
"Yes--life is suppose to be fun."
With that—Our Conversation With Chad Cordero came to an end. Followed immediately by one of our favorite moments at Spring Training in Viera, Florida. As posted before, I then mention to Chad: with as many pictures as Sohna as taken with him--(SBF) has never taken even one. Immediately Our Number 32 responds laughing: "Yes, EVERYONE (within the organization) has taken a picture with The African Queen!!" Chad Cordero grinning from ear to ear. His inflection was great. Our Number 32 was having a good time--and we enjoyed his camaraderie.
In fact, Sohna and I love his free spirit personality. You can tell--he enjoys playing the game. Sure, Major League Baseball is a Big Business, but "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is having fun--also.
Like Shawn Hill, Nick Johnson, Austin Kearns and Ryan Zimmerman beforehand--some of the many other players for Our Washington Nationals interviewed on Nats320--Chad Cordero seems well grounded and understands--after four successful years in The Major Leagues--he is capable of doing better. That's a good sign. Sohna and I only wish Chad the best in 2008 and beyond.