For more than a more, the Seattle Mariners stalked reliever Chad Cordero.
They watched him throw in the bullpen.
They talked to his doctors and trainers and people like bullpen coach John Wetteland, who knew Cordero. They talked to their own doctors and trainers.
And then, they pounced.
"We did our due diligence," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "He's not had a setback since his surgery, which was not terribly invasive. He's throwing on a regular basis."
No one knows with any certainty when Cordero will pitch, but he signed a minor league contract and will be in camp some time today. Given that the team doesn't have a closer – lots of candidates, but no closer – landing Cordero makes sense.
If for whatever reason he can't pitch, the team has lost nothing. And if he can pitch a month or two into the season, the Mariners suddenly have a 27-year-old closing candidate with experience at the job.
This wasn't a deal made just for 2009. The Mariners are looking ahead, building a team with depth for this year and beyond.
"I'm excited to have him, except we don't really have him yet," manager Don Wakamatsu said.
What the Mariners know is there's no medical reason Cordero can't pitch again, and they'll be as patient as they need to be – finding an All-Star closer is worth the wait.