VIERA, Fla. - “The Chief” is making a comeback.
Chad Cordero, who spent six seasons with the Expos/Nationals organization and saved 128 games in that time, announced last night on Twitter that he has signed a minor league deal with the Angels.
Now 30, Cordero won’t be receiving an invitation to big league spring training, according to reports, so his journey back to the majors still has some obstacles. But Cordero, a former All-Star and fan favorite in D.C., has a chance.
So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance?
Cordero once saved 40-plus games in a season for the Nationals. Drew Storen did the same. And now, Storen is attempting to bounce back from the biggest blown save of his young career.
Storen, of course, was on the mound when a 7-5 ninth-inning lead over the Cardinals turned into a decisive 9-7 loss in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. After that loss, Storen took some time to unwind and let the memories from his 2012 season percolate for a bit. Then he got back to work.
One of the steps Storen scaled in the offseason involved completely putting Game 5 in the rear-view mirror, but in order to do so, he decided to pull up the footage of his blown save, looking for clues as to why it all went wrong.
“I felt OK with what I was doing,” Storen said of his plan of attack that night. “It was easier for me to swallow, like I talked about after the game, (because) I stuck with my game plan. It really came down to you have to tip your hat to those guys. You sit there and in your head, you do all the what-ifs, but then you’ve got to realize those guys get paid a lot to do what they do and there’s just some nights you get beat.
“But it’s part of the learning process. Just seeing a different viewpoint kind of helps you process things a little bit better.”
This blown save obviously stung more than the others. But for Storen, watching the disastrous ninth inning was not only a part of the learning process, but also the healing process. It’s something he makes sure to do after every appearance, good or bad.
“Anytime I don’t do well, it’s not exactly fun to watch,” Storen said. “But it’s one of those things, it’s like reading a paper somebody went through and marked up. You felt good about the paper (but) didn’t really do well. But that’s how you learn. If I only went back and watched good outings, I wouldn’t get any better. It’s tough for me, because I’m very much of a perfectionist and I like looking at things. It helped me identify things that I can work on in those situations to get better.
“Every time you get to adversity, it’s like a fork, you either get worse or you get better. And the only way I’m going to get better is learn from it.”
Pretty mature approach from a guy who is still just 25.
Perhaps even more mature is this: Immediately after the blown save, Storen received an avalanche of messages from fans, most of which came in from Twitter. Mixed in among the hundreds of tweets telling Storen to keep his head up were some nasty, hate-fueled comments, including some death threats.
While Storen avoided posting on Twitter for a few weeks after the blown save, he says he never thought about shutting down his account. He appreciated all the supportive messages he got from fans, he says, and didn’t even mind the negative feedback he received all that much.
“There was a lot of reaction, which, for me, was kind of an exciting thing because it shows you how much people are caring,” Storen said. “I think the amount of support I got was incredible and really shows how great the fans of D.C. are. At FanFest this year, that was incredible. I can’t say enough how much that meant to me and my family, too. This whole offseason, the way I was treated by the fans, I can’t say enough. It started years back when I got a standing “O” on the trade deadline day. I’ve just been treated so great and that’s what makes me so happy and makes me want to give this city what it deserves.”
Now comes the second act, the chance for Storen to redeem himself and get back on track. He won’t open the season as the Nationals’ closer thanks to the free agent signing of Rafael Soriano, but Storen is still attacking his mound sessions this spring with the same mindset that he always has. And now he has a little more information, a little more experience to build upon.
“Spring training is a great opportunity for me to work towards showing people that I’ve moved forward,” Storen said. “I can sit here and tell you guys I’ve moved forward and all this and that, but for me to get out there and pitch in big situations and be myself ... that’s the way that I’ll show people that I’m all good.”