GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It's not uncommon at Spring Training to see a player or two arrive at camp looking a little leaner. This year, it was closer Francisco Cordero who looked particularly svelte. It could be seen especially in his face and around his waist. There might have been some club-inspired motivation to help shed the pounds. "You always get the advice of the team but you have to do it on your own," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We all have an optimum weight the team thinks it should be. Guys are on the honor system when they're away."
Cordero believes he held up his end of the bargain, claiming he dropped around 10 pounds with a dedicated workout regimen at home in the Dominican Republic. Before last season ended, the 6-foot-3 right-hander tipped the scales at over 250 pounds. "I've never been that heavy as I was last year," Cordero said sheepishly on Sunday. "Looking at myself, I said I have to be in better shape than I was last year. I went back to the D.R. and worked hard to get in better shape. I probably will get better results." Cordero was third in the National League with 40 saves last season but also blew eight saves and had several outings that caused many a hand-wringing. His high walk total -- 36 in 72 2/3 innings -- and the 68 hits allowed often put his back to the wall and led to trouble. "It gets you into trouble with your mechanics," Cordero said of the extra weight. "I think going back to last year, it was something I was worried about -- what was going on with my mechanics. I wasn't in good shape. I understand you have to be ready in every way. You have to be in shape, ready mentally and physically. All the other stuff is going to help you with your career." If improved fitness can upgrade his performance, it could also help restore fan confidence in Cordero. Despite his high save total, the 35-year-old took a lot of heat from the home crowd last season. Cordero holds no grudge with Reds fans and understands why they were on his back. "They're excited and we're winning and we were fighting for the Central Division," Cordero said. "The team is fighting to win the game and you blew it. You're going to get the fans upset. You have to blame yourself for that. You're not going to blame anybody else. This is your job. This is why closers get paid that much money -- to do a job. I don't get upset. I hear the booing. They want me to do good. They want 1-2-3, everybody go home happy." Cordero is entering the final year of a four-year, $46 million contract that pays him $12 million this season. He has a $12 million club option for 2012 that has a $1 million buyout. He had 34 saves in 2008 and 39 saves in 2009. "Last year, I got into a little bit of trouble but I believe I did a great job," said Cordero, who was 6-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 75 games. "I believe I can do better. This is my contract year but I don't look at it that way. The team you play for deserves the best every day, any day and at any time."