Cordero won't need surgery, but will miss at least one month

WASHINGTON -- Nationals reliever Chad Cordero is expected to be sidelined for at least a month with a tear in a muscle below his pitching shoulder, although the team determined Wednesday he won't need surgery.

Cordero left Washington's 6-3 victory over Atlanta on Tuesday night when he felt pain while throwing a pitch in the ninth inning.

The right-hander had an MRI and was checked out by a team doctor Wednesday. The Nationals said he will miss four to six weeks but they did not immediately put him on the disabled list, because they haven't decided what the corresponding roster move will be.

It will be Cordero's second trip to the DL this season after missing time because of tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.

"The good news is we did another MRI on the shoulder and the shoulder is fine. That's the third MRI we've done on the shoulder in the last three weeks," general manager Jim Bowden said. "Hopefully we'll get him good and strong and he'll have a strong second half for us."

Cordero doesn't have any saves this season, because after returning from his first stay on the disabled list, he relinquished his closer's job to Jon Rauch. Cordero had been close to regaining his usual duties before Tuesday's injury.

He has no doubts he can return to being the pitcher who led the majors with 47 saves in 2005.

"If I come off the DL in mid-June, then maybe in early July I should hopefully be back to my old self," he said. "I have all the confidence in myself to be able to get to where I was last year and the year before."

For now, Rauch will be the closer and the main setup man Luis Ayala.

"With injuries come opportunity. Injuries you hate to see in the game, and our prayers are with Chad. But it's part of the game, and what injuries do is it gives other people opportunities," Bowden said. "Here's Jon Rauch's chance to be a closer in the big leagues. Here's Luis Ayala's chance to be the eighth-inning guy to set him up."

Cordero will be with the team, trying to figure out how to kill time until he can start throwing again. He figures it will be at least two weeks of pure rest.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. Maybe go down sit in the bullpen when we're at home. Those are my buddies down there. That's my family," Cordero said. "It's going to be tough."