BOSTON – For Aaron Cook and the Red Sox, D-Day – as in Decision Day – is at hand.
With Tuesday marking May 1, the day in which Cook’s minor-league opt-out clause officially takes effect, Boston must decide whether to promote the veteran pitcher and place him on the active roster or risk losing him to free agency. Reached Monday night, Joe Bick, the agent for Cook, spelled out a step-by-step process that included all involved parties.
“The way it reads is that if he isn’t called up by May 1, then we make the decision we have to make, and they have 48 hours to respond,” Bick stated. “Once we make a decision, it’s completely in their hands. There’s really nothing for us to do beyond deal with what their response is.”
Earlier Monday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was asked if the organization was close to making a decision on Cook, presently 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA for the Pawtucket Red Sox in five starts. Valentine noted that he talked with general manager Ben Cherington about finding the 33-year-old a role on the team that signed him to a deal in January, though no final decisions have made.
“Everyone’s opinion has been shared,” Valentine said.
With no apparent openings in Boston’s starting rotation, the logical place for Cook seems to be in the bullpen. To that end, Valentine admits that it would be “challenging” to ask a longtime starting pitcher to make the switch to relief. Predominantly a starter during his 10-year MLB career with Colorado, Cook has made just one major-league relief appearance since the start of the 2003 season. That took place last season.
With the Red Sox faced with the prospect of playing 20 games in 20 days following Thursday’s scheduled off-day, Cook could very well be asked to serve as a spot starter, which is something Valentine acknowledged.
“I think that’s a factor and a consideration, if needed,” Valentine remarked.
Bick made the trip to see Cook pitch in person at Columbus this past Saturday night. Despite working in unseasonable conditions, Bick saw a pitcher who appears ready to take the next step.
“We’ve got a decision to make and so do they,” Bick said.
Andrew Bailey (right thumb) missed out on a chance to face his former Oakland teammates this week, though according to A’s reliever Jerry Blevins, Bailey is doing everything he possibly can in order to return to the Red Sox by midseason.
“He’s a pretty positive guy. He’s more broken hearted for the team and also the fans because he wanted to do well for Boston,” said Blevins, a teammate of Bailey’s for three seasons (2009-11). “He’s moving along with his rehab and everything’s on schedule.”
For those who are anxious to see how Bailey performs in Boston, Blevins provided several reasons for optimism.
“He’s one of the friendliest players that you’ll have on your team. He’s always smiling and joking around, but when it’s game time and he’s out there in the bullpen, he develops that real intense approach that you need in a closer, which is perfect,” Blevins said. “The first time I saw him throw out of the bullpen during spring training a few years back, I knew right away that he was built for the back of the bullpen.”
As a crowd of reporters gathered around Josh Reddick’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park, Chili Davis, Oakland’s first-year hitting coach, sat at a table in the middle of the room, his eyes fixated on the computer screen while jotting down notes.
Such focus and attention to detail was often on display when Davis served as the PawSox’s hitting coach in 2011. Needless to say, Reddick is appreciative that he’s able to work with a familiar face.
“People are going to go to him as a hitting coach, but our past dealings helped open a door for me to go and talk to him as well,” Reddick said. “Guys would ask me during spring training what Chili was like as a coach, but he’s different with everybody. He’s not lazy and he can talk about anything you want to, which is good.”