The first sign of trouble came on Sunday night at the Washington Nationals' home opener in Nationals Park, when, with the Nationals leading the Atlanta Braves 2-1 in each team's first game of 2008, the Tallest Pitcher in MLB History Jon Rauch began warming up late in the game preparing to take the mound in the ninth in an attempt to close out a hard-fought Inaugural win. "Why is Rauch warming up and not The Flat-Brimmed Closer?" I asked my brother Scout, Braves fan and Source for All Things Baseball, as the two of us sat in the next to last row in the upper deck straight above first base and stared down over the home team's bullpen.
"It's federalbaseball.com now," I responded, "...and I can't get online with my iPhone from this high up in the park...And as of yesterday there was absolutely nothing wrong with Cordero. Nothing that they wrote about at least, no articles, uh that I read...or saw, Damn iT!! Why can't I get online?"
"Give it up!" Put the phone away!! Watch the game," Scout taunted.
"It's not a phone, it's an iPhone."
Jon Rauch took the mound on Sunday night with a 2-1 lead, and a passed ball with a runner on third allowed the Braves to tie the score, but that only lasted a few outs, as Ryan Zimmerman once again sent the DC faithful home happy with another walk-off home run that fans around me in the stands half-expected and even whispered about as soon as they saw that Zimmerman was going to bat in the ninth.
"That's unfortunately true." Scout confirms.
On Monday, as the Nationals prepared to play in Philadelphia's Home Opener, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported in an article entitled, "Cordero resting shoulder", that:
"A day after getting a cortisone shot, Nationals closer Chad Cordero said his right shoulder feels 'kind of weird.'"
The cortisone shot was necessary, according to Mr. Ladson, because, "Before Sunday's home opener, Cordero felt a sharp pain in his shoulder during batting practice."
By Tuesday, Washington Post Writer Barry Svrluga was describing the injury as "tendinitis in his right shoulder," in an article entitled, "No DL For Cordero, Not Just Yet", which started with Mr. Svrluga writing:
"Washington Nationals Manager Manny Acta said the club is not yet cosidering putting closer Chad Cordero on the disabled list..."
(Photo by Nick Wass/AP.)
And later Mr. Svrluga writes that because Chris Schroder was called up to replace Cordero's bullpen spot, the team is short a bench player, preferably an outfielder, and Mr. Svrluga reports that:
"If Cordero has to to go on the disabled list, Acta said the team has considered recalling Justin Maxwell from Class AA Harrisburg."
Veteran Nationals' lefty reliever "Half-A" Ray King told Washington Times writer Ben Goessling, in an article entitled, "Bullpen's struggles haven't hurt Nats", how the Nationals' bullpen is dealing with the absence of the Flat-Brimmed Closer, also known as "Chief":
"Right now we're piecing it together until we get Chief [Cordero] back in that [closer's] role," said reliever Ray King, who is normally called on to get one left-hander out but has pitched 1 2/3 innings in the first two games, "A lot of guys are pitching in different situations. We're bending there but we're not breaking. We've blown saves, but we haven't blown a game. Until then I still feel confidence in our guys down there."
The plan is apparently to have Chad Cordero throw tomorrow and then reassess the situation depending on the outcome of the session. Jon Rauch replaced Chad Cordero as a closer for a short time last season, with Rauch saving 3 of 5 opportunities in five consecutive games that saw Rauch start by saving three straight before blowing the last two. The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History, Jon Rauch has accumulated 6 saves in his five-year Major League career.
?'s For DC Baseball Fans...
Whatever happened to Zechry Zinicola? I mean, I know where he is and what he's done statistically, but if he's not the next Nationals' closer, then who in the organization is being groomed for the role?
Is Justin Maxwell the top choice in the Minors for a fourth outfield option? Who else?
Is there any more intimidating presence on the mound than Jon Rauch?
What happened to Joel "Unhittable" Hanrahan yesterday in Philly?
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