OMAHA, Neb. -- Before the 2015 season, Chad Cordero’s last significant everyday role with Cal State Fullerton came as a shutdown closer in the 2003 College World Series.
The then-21-year-old Cordero was finishing up a junior season worthy of convincing Montreal Expos general manager Omar Minaya to select Cordero with the 20th overall pick in the MLB draft.Since then, the Expos have moved to Washington and Cordero, 33, has made his way back into the Fullerton bullpen, this time as an undergraduate assistant coach, wearing many flat-brimmed hats for the program.
“It was like a natural thing for me to do,” Cordero said after the conclusion of Fullerton’s hard-luck loss to Vanderbilt on Monday. “I wanted to stay in baseball somehow and Fullerton has always been close to my heart. It's where I got my start. It's where I became a closer.”
In seven MLB seasons, Cordero compiled 128 saves, including a 47-save season in 2005, which garnered an All-Star appearance and a fifth place finish in Cy Young Award voting. Cordero also became recognized as a major leaguer for the iconic unbent brim on his cap as well as his stellar seasons in Washington.
Cordero’s 34 career saves at Fullerton are good for the second-highest total in program history and he’s become the unofficial bullpen coach at Fullerton, mentoring the best relief option for the Titans, Tyler Peitzmeier.
Peitzmeier had just one save as the team’s closer entering his senior season, and after working with Cordero in 2015 tallied 16 saves before the CWS, which is the third-highest single-season total in program history and two more than Cordero’s best season with the Titans.
“He actually does a lot better job than I did,” Cordero said of Peitzmeier. “He's able to go multiple innings -- he's gone two or three innings I think at least 10 times this year.”
Peitzmeier, a 6-foot-2, lanky lefthander, won’t draw physical comparisons to the stocky right-hander Cordero. But what they do have in common is the success and national exposure in a Fullerton jersey.
“With me I was more of a one maybe two and guy at the most,” Cordero said. “He does a better job being able to go through multiple innings and stuff, but he pounds the strike zone and that's what you need to do as a closer.”
Cordero is technically a student finishing his degree at Fullerton -- actually ending up in two different classes with Peitzmeier -- but has some wisdom to impart on his players and a veteran look at the balance between life and baseball.
“Just time management I think, it's like being a student is always hard when you're trying to balance your social life, your baseball, your academics,” Cordero said. “It's kind of a hard thing to do so I wish I would've had a better grip on how to do that [in college]. But right now it's just, I got to remind the guys make time for your studies, make time for your family and baseball is going to take up a lot of your time but make sure you give up time for school to.”
Peitzmeier, a ninth-round selection by the Chicago Cubs, was one of six Fullerton players selected in the 2015 MLB Draft. Since Cordero in 2003, the Titans have produced six other first-rounders.
Now that he’s a coach, Cordero’s new responsibility is to reel in the focus of all players, drafted or undrafted.
“I just tell them not to worry about it because you know a lot of kids tend to worry about where they’re going to get drafted and what's going to happen in the future,” Cordero explained.
“I tell them whatever happens going to happen you can't really control it. The only thing you can control is how you perform. So, worry about going out there, doing the best you can on the field and then the rest will play out the way it's supposed to.”