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03/15/09 5:18 PM ET
Cordero passes first bullpen session
Club officials pleased with reliever's 35-pitch effort
By Jim Street / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The 35-pitch bullpen session consumed about half an hour of right-hander Chad Cordero's first Sunday morning with the Mariners, and it went off without a hitch. "It feels good to have a uniform on for first time in almost a year," he said. "Everything felt really good."
Anything less would have kept the smile off his face.
"I always get a little nervous before I pitch," he said. "Today, I was nervous and excited."
The bullpen session was Cordero's next step back to the big leagues. His career, which includes an All-Star Game invitation in 2005 with the Nationals, was interrupted late last April when he experienced pain his right shoulder.
He had season-ending surgery on July 8 to repair a torn labrum.
The rehabilitation was long and arduous, but the early reports are extremely favorable. Cordero has told club officials that he has worked himself up to 50-pitch workouts and his shoulder feels great.
Even so, the Mariners will proceed cautiously with Cordero, who will celebrate his 27th birthday on Wednesday -- six days after he signed a Minor League contract and was invited to camp as a non-roster player.
General manager Jack Zduriencik watched Cordero's workout from different viewpoints.
"I have known Chad for some time," the GM said. "I remember seeing him at Cal State Fullerton and in the big leagues. All you're looking for [during the workout] is: does he look free and easy and is his delivery the same as it was?
"It looked similar to what it has been. You also look to see if he is favoring anything, looking at any flaws or whatever, and hope he walks away and says, 'I feel really good'. Apparently that was the case."
Zduriencik, assistant GM Lee Pelekoudas and head athletic trainer Rick Griffin were among those paying close attention to Cordero.
"They liked what they saw, and hopefully I can keep moving up and not have any setbacks," Cordero told the assembled media afterwards. "I haven't had any [setbacks] so far. As long as I keep doing all the work they want me to do, who knows, I could be up here quicker than anyone thinks."
The organization has not yet established a timetable.
"Those are hard to predict," Zduriencik said. "One player can be ready two or three weeks sooner than another player. You never really know, but if he's feeling good right now, which he does, that's great.
"If he's feeling good, we're feeling good."
A healthy Cordero could give Seattle a veteran replacement for J.J. Putz, traded to the Mets during the offseason. Cordero has 128 career saves, including 47 in 2005, 29 in '06 and 37 in '07.
The torn labrum robbed him of almost 10 mph off his fastball, but he always relied more on guile than velocity.
"His delivery has never been the perfect, classic delivery," Zduriencik said, "but that works for him. There is a lot of deception in what he does."
Even so, Cordero realizes he can't be effective throwing in the 80-83 mph range, and until his velocity returns to the 90-mph mark, the rehab process will continue.
"That might take another month or so," he said, "so realistically, I think early to mid-May is when I could be ready."
For now, though, it's good just to be outside again.
"When I was rehabbing [at home], everything was inside," he said. "There was a nice little breeze with fresh air. My arm felt great. No pain. No nothing.
"It was exciting. I had a big smile on my face the whole time."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.