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Cordero's comeback moves to big league camp

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Chad Cordero was recently pulled off the field in Minor League camp by Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais, he thought it was to simply go over Monday's outing -- his first appearance in a game in nearly two years.

Instead, he got an invitation to Major League camp.

"It threw me back a little bit," Cordero said on the morning of his first day on the main field at the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex. "I was surprised, but at the same time, I was excited, to be able to come up here and go through big league camp and just get used to the whole thing again. I'm looking forward to that. It's a great opportunity for me, and I'm very thankful that it's happened."

Cordero -- shockingly only 30 years old -- made a name for himself as a closer for the Nationals, making an All-Star team, posting a 2.79 ERA and racking up 113 saves from 2005-07. Then shoulder surgery knocked him out for almost two years, then his 11-week-old daughter died in December 2010, then, while mentally checked out, the Blue Jays released him in May 2011, prompting Cordero to spend most of the next couple of years as a retired father and husband.

Now Cordero -- a lifelong Angels fan and a former first-round pick out of Cal State Fullerton -- is motivated to make an improbable comeback.

He's lost about 40 pounds, dropping down to an unrecognizable 188, and was signed by the Angels based off his track record and an appearance at a Fullerton scrimmage in early February, which was recorded by the cell-phone camera of Cordero's agent.

On Wednesday, two days after giving up a homer and three straight flyouts in a one-inning stint against the Mariners in Peoria, Cordero was brought to big league camp so Angels coaches could take a closer look.

His ultimate goal is to be a big league closer again, but he understands that may be a long process.

"I'm going to go out there and throw and see what happens," Cordero said. "I'm going to try to have fun and get back to that same rhythm that I was in before I got hurt, before I stopped playing. Hopefully it all works out, whether it's the beginning of the season or in the middle of the season. My goal is to get back up here this year, hopefully, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get back up here."

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Sean Burnett, Chad Cordero, Kaleb Cowart, Scott Downs, Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen, Ryan Madson