CHICAGO -- Speaking before the his team's game against the White Sox Saturday afternoon, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said the organization has altered it's view of Aaron Cook and now believes pitching the righty out of the bullpen is an option.
Cook was scheduled to make his fifth start with the Pawtucket Red Sox Saturday night in Columbus. The pitcher has a May 1 opt-out in his contract, which means the player has 24 hours from the beginning of the opt-out date to inform the team of his decision whether or not to remain with the club. The Red Sox would then have 48 hours to make their determination after hearing from the player.
"There have been discussions," said Valentine when asked if the bullpen was an option for Cook.
"[Pitching coach] Bob McClure thinks that after talking with him that it's feasible. … I think I told you guys initially in spring training, that was a non-factor. It was a non-consideration. Reports are that he's never felt better about his shoulder, or he hasn't felt this good about his shoulder in a long time."
Cook is coming off an outing in which he allowed one unearned run on eight hits over seven innings. In total with the PawSox, the righty has totaled a 1.33 ERA in 27 innings.
The last time Cook pitched regularly out of the bullpen was in 2003 when he appeared 27 games as a reliever.
"What surprised me was, with Aaron’s shoulder, the trainers did such a good job with him this spring that, when I talked to him right before we broke, he said he felt like he could pitch out of the bullpen," McClure said. "Before, I don’t think he could have physically -- got up, got down, up. He said his shoulder hadn’t felt this way in three or four years. That being said, right before we broke camp, I asked him, and he said he could. That still remains to be seen, but if a guy tells you that, you’ve got to think maybe he could.”
Asked about the progression Cook might have to go through in order to integrate himself into a bullpen role, the pitching coach added, "You’d want to start him out the first couple of times and see how he rebounds from there. If everything goes smoothly, yeah, you could bring him in. You’d try and bring him in at first kind of clean. Matty [Albers] might be able to go in and clean the inning up and then have Cookie behind him, that kind of thing."
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