Cordero: The comeback that fell short

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell spoke to Francisco Cordero on Thursday and told him he had not made the team, they said there was a spot for him in Triple-A Pawtucket’s bullpen if he wanted it.

Cordero appreciated the gesture, as much as he was grateful they’d even given him a chance this spring, but after 14 seasons in the big leagues, 329 career saves, and three All-Star teams, the decision is not an easy one for him to make.

“I don’t know if I can handle it, you know?" he said.

But the alternative -- just going home -- is no easier, especially after a spring in which he returned from a year’s absence to make eight appearances this

spring, allowing no runs in any of them.

“It’s not something that had crossed my mind," Cordero said of continuing his attempted comeback in the minors. “I have to talk to my agent, see what advice he gives me. Right now, I don’t know what I want to do.

“It’s hard to say I’m going to retire, I’m going to quit, after so many years. It’s been my life, playing baseball. I know it’s not going to last forever, but when you feel you can still pitch, it’s hard to say you’re going home."

Cordero did not allow a run in eight appearances this spring, most of his work coming late in games against lineups peppered with minor-leaguers.

Farrell praised the Dominican right-hander for how he’d come to camp 30 pounds lighter, for the way he located his pitches, and for velocity that was a far cry from the high 90s he used to throw but at 92-93 m.p.h. was enough to get people out.

“Like I said to John and Ben yesterday, I really appreciated the opportunity," said Cordero, who had eight seasons of 30 or more saves, including a career-high 49 with Texas in 2004. “I think I opened a lot of eyes the way I pitched. After missing last year, I proved to myself I can still get people out.

“I know that I didn’t make the team here, because they pretty much have the whole bullpen set up, but I really, really appreciate Ben bringing me here with a chance to compete."

Cordero did not have an opt-out clause in his minor-league deal with the Sox, but he could conceivably ask for his release.

If this is indeed the end, Cordero said he may elect to play on the softball team run by his brother, Carlos. “They already have my name on their jerseys," he said. “[Former Indians closer] Jose Mesa plays on a team, Edwin Encarbacion’s brother, some other big-leaguers."

Cordero is the Dominican’s all-time leader in saves; he has eight more than Mesa.

“I’m not a young kid anymore," said Cordero, who turns 39 in May. “I thank God for the opportunity to play. It’s hard to be mad at anyone. I had a long career, a good career. I’m proud of everything I accomplished. I’m really happy with what I did."