Given the tragedies and near tragedies of the past, the spring challenges facing Chad Cordero of the Angels and Anthony Vasquez of the Mariners must seem like less than nothing. Each pitcher is struggling -- "fighting" would probably be more fitting -- to break camp on the active roster, and each is carrying very different scars.
In Cordero's case, the 30-year-old is trying to return to the majors for first time since 2010 and for the first time since enduring an unimaginable loss. The AP's Greg Beacham writes:
After the Nationals unceremoniously released him, he got a minor-league deal with Seattle for 2009, but didn't get healthy enough to make it back to the majors until June 2010 -- and he lasted only nine games with the Mariners.
But baseball faded into the background when Cordero's 11-week-old daughter, Tehya, died of sudden infant death syndrome in December 2010. Cordero tried to keep playing while he dealt with the grief. He signed with Toronto, but couldn't stick. He played briefly in an independent league in Minnesota, but began contemplating life after baseball.
Time was when Cordero was famous for his flat-brimmed hat and hefty build. Now, though, he's most notable for a resiliency that most of us -- thank God -- can scarcely imagine.
As for Vasquez, his struggles are also of a life-and-death nature. Here's Greg Johns of MLB.com:
When Vasquez last was at the Mariners complex in November, he'd begun feeling headaches and experiencing vision problems that led him to ask an athletic trainer for help during one of his workouts as he recovered from a shoulder problem that hampered him most of last season.
As soon as Vasquez was taken to a doctor, tests revealed that a blood vessel had ruptured in his brain and had been leaking for several days. He was whisked to the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where a 5 1/2-hour surgery removed a potentially fatal tangle of arteries and veins in the brain called an arteriovenous malformation.
As Vasquez's surgeon tells Johns, that the lefty has been able to return to pitching so soon after such a perilous procedure is "quite remarkable." While Vasquez is almost certainly ticketed for the minors (he's also working his way back from a shoulder injury), his experiences have certainly given him the perspective he needs to take the long view.
As always, roster spots will be determined by merit or perceptions thereof. Here's hoping, though, that these two strong, embattled men are able to seize their opportunities.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook. Also, individually interact with us on Twitter: @MattSnyder27, @daynperry and @mikeaxisa.