A heartbreaking work

I doubt I will root harder for anyone in baseball this season than I will for Chad Cordero. 

Last December, Cordero, former All-Star closer for the Washington Nationals, lost his 18-month-old daughter, Tehya, to sudden infant death syndrome. The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga chronicles Cordero’s attempt to put his career – and life – back together this spring with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Nothing since that night – since the phone rang and they raced to the car and drove like hell, only to discover their baby girl Tehya had died – has been normal. They now know statistics about SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, and have met parents like themselves, with losses new and old, nearly all of them still wondering, “Why us?”

They have endured the unspeakable pain of burying their daughter, of visiting her grave every day – family picnics sometimes, each parent alone with Tehya at others. And eventually, they made the bold decision to head east – east, for baseball – trying to hold together their life as Cordero tries, simultaneously, to hold together his career.

“I want to do it for her,” Chad Cordero said.

It’s a heartbreaking piece, and Svrluga does a masterful job with it. After reading it, Jonathan Papelbon’s struggles this spring seem irrelevant. Scratch that, ARE irrelevant. As a parent, you fear every day for your children, whether it be some immediate concern, or a lingering, ever-present apprehension. If the unthinkable were to happen, you wonder how you can move on with your life.

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Cordero signed a minor league deal with Toronto during the offseason. He was 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA last season in nine games with Seattle, his first season back in the big leagues after blowing out his elbow in 2008. He’s yet to pitch in a spring training game after being shut down earlier in the spring with inflammation in his shoulder. According to MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, “[Manager John] Farrell already has ruled out Cordero having a chance of making the Blue Jays at the start of the season. Instead, Cordero likely will begin the year at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he will continue to build up his arm strength and look to regain some of his old form, which saw him post 128 saves over seven seasons.”

I hope he does it. I have no greater hope for the 2011 season.