Cordero confident velocity will return
Longtime closer feels game action will help; Rauch to fill in
NEW YORK -- A day after losing his closer's job because of lack of velocity, Nationals reliever Chad Cordero said that his shoulder is fine and reiterated that he needs to play catch and appear in games to get the velocity back.
The Nationals were alarmed on Wednesday to see that Cordero's fastball was clocked in the 70s in mph and that he looked like he was hurting. When he is at his best, Cordero's fastball is in the high 80s and low 90s. It appeared that he was in pain whenever he attempted to throw a pitch.
Still, Cordero didn't give up a run in his only inning on the mound. He threw 20 pitches, and 17 of them went for strikes.
"Location isn't a big worry for me at all," Cordero said. "It's the velocity. ... It's a matter of building arm strength."
For the time being, right-hander Jon Rauch will be the closer. He already has a win and a save in the role this season. This is not the first time Rauch has had to fill in for Cordero; last year, when Cordero was on the bereavement list, Rauch saved three games.
When approached about his new role, Rauch said he was not told that he was the closer, but he said he will do whatever it takes to help the team.
"Whatever role they need me to do, I'm going to do it," Rauch said.
This season, Rauch has given up five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He acknowledged that he hasn't been consistent on the mound.
"I haven't made pitches when I needed to," Rauch said. "I walked guys and got behind a lot of hitters. I haven't been very effective."
Rauch also had a lot on his mind during the slow start. He was worried about his wife, Erica, who had a Cesarean section and gave birth to a baby girl last week. Rauch is happy to report that mother and daughter are doing fine.
"I like to think I'm a big-time family guy, and it was definitely weighing on my mind," he said. "She had to have surgery. She had to have a c-section. It's always weighing on your head. You try to figure out how you are going to coordinate everything with your other daughter. That definitely played a part, but at the same time, I know have a job I need to do."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.