Healthy Erik Cordier Impresses Braves
ATLANTA—Erik Cordier was a day away from scheduling a second Tommy John surgery when he decided to do something extreme.
With his elbow not responding early in the summer of 2008, he went onto an empty field in Florida and started throwing balls at the right field fence with every ounce of energy his body could muster.
"I decided to cut some pitches loose so I wouldn't forget how it felt," Cordier, 24, said. "After about 10 throws I heard a pop, and I was certain the ligament was gone. But I kept throwing, and my arm felt better and better. Instead of tearing the ligament, I had broken the last bit of scar tissue loose."
Injuries marred the early portion of Cordier's career. Drafted by the Royals in the second round out of Southern Door (Wis.) High in 2004, he opened his first professional campaign in extended spring training and suffered a knee injury that prevented him from pitching in the short-season ranks. He made 10 starts in 2006 before succumbing to Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2007 slate.
To his surprise, Cordier was traded during spring training in 2007 for shortstop Tony Pena Jr. The Braves had significant interest in the righthander out of high school and felt he was worth waiting for while he rehabilitated his arm.
After breaking up the scar tissue, Cordier finally pitched for the Braves in late 2008. He then made 25 starts at high Class A Myrtle Beach in 2009, going 7-8, 3.87 with 115 hits allowed in 121 innings. The righty also walked 74 batters, which he attributed to the lingering effects from surgery.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Cordier has made even more progress this year at Double-A Mississippi, going 11-7, 3.71 in 136 innings. He ranked fifth in the Southern League in wins (10), third in opponent average (.239) and tied for fourth in strikeouts (109).
"Everything's getting there, but I feel there's more I can do," Cordier said. "I really hit my stride in July, and I feel that's the type of pitcher I can be every time I take the mound."
• Outfielder Cody Johnson looked like a different hitter since demoted to Myrtle Beach in mid-August. After hitting .189/.269/.343 at Mississippi, Johnson batted .277/.351/.523 in his first 65 at-bats with the Pelicans.
• Triple-A Gwinnett lefthander Scott Diamond tossed a two-hit shutout against Norfolk on Aug. 30. A nondrafted free agent signed in 2007, the 24-year-old Diamond was 4-0, 2.41 in nine starts since a promotion from Mississippi.