Don't worry. This isn't some story pulled from the files of Dateline: To Catch A Predator. There will be no arrests. No Chris Hansen. No transcripts of online chats. No inserting "your bleep" in "her bleep."
Rather, this is a story of perseverance and determination. Which should fully explain why Chad Cordero, the one-time All-Star closer, is hanging out with teenagers in Everett in the first place.
Recently promoted from, well, essentially nothing, Cordero has emerged in the Great Northwest as a less-heralded version of his former self.
Donning the jersey of the short-season Single-A Aquasox, Cordero is slowly creeping his way back to relevance in a business that rarely grants second chances.
He has yet to fully capitalize on his opportunity as he works his way back from surgery to repair a torn labrum—essentially, in layman's terms, a blown arm—but he's making baby steps as he climbs the ladder.
Taken on as a reclamation project of sorts by the Seattle Mariners' front office prior to the start of the season, Cordero has struggled to return to form at extended spring training in Peoria.
The 27-year-old righthander—never a real hard-thrower to begin with—has seen his velocity peak in the mid-80s. He has yet to establish the command he once had as a member of the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise in the early part of this decade.
A first-round pick of the Expos in 2003 out of Cal-State Fullerton, Cordero would make his debut with the big league club in August of that year. After being rushed to the majors, the inept and un-owned (at the time) franchise pinned high hopes on a closer they barely had use for. Even still, the team found excuses to get their bullpen ace in the game.
In 2004, Cordero tossed a career-high 82-and-two-thirds innings. He notched 14 saves that year, splitting time in the setup and closer roles.
A year later, the man fans called "The Chief" had his breakout season. In 74-and-a-third innings, Cordero logged 47 saves and posted an anorexic 1.82 ERA. He was awarded in midseason with an All-Star nod, then would go on to finish the season fifth in NL Cy Young balloting, while recording a few MVP votes as well.
Over the following two seasons, Cordero became a relied-upon force in the Nationals' bullpen. He tallied 66 saves combined in 2006 and 2007 as the organization became a perennial cellar dweller.
At the same time, his ERA began to creep up and his velocity started to drop.
By 2008, Cordero was all but done. He appeared in just six games that season before succumbing to injury and essentially falling off the face of the earth.
It's not often that a baseball player goes from relevant to afterthought as quickly as Cordero did.
The Nationals quickly realized they had no use for an injured closer (heck, they barely had use for a closer, period), and let Cordero walk in the offseason.
With no big league club willing to take a chance on a recovering relief pitcher, Cordero signed a deal with the Mariners that guaranteed him nothing. Since then, he has been stagnating in the Arizona heat while attempting to get promoted to a team that played un-simulated games.
The website Baseball-Reference.com already lists Chad Cordero as having played his final major league game. According to their database, that fateful day came not 16 months ago, on April 29, 2008. Little do they know that Cordero is still clinging, still fighting, and still working his way back to erase that entry from their log.
And with any luck, Chad Cordero might, just maybe, get back to where he wants to be: Major League Baseball.
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