FORT MYERS, Fla. ?? Aaron Cook will inch back slowly into major league form.
Despite Cook's impressive, two-inning debut on Sunday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine hinted Monday that he didn't believe the right-hander would be ready in time for Opening Day.
"Will he get enough innings in order to start pitching in the major leagues right at the beginning of the season? I doubt it," Valentine said. "It seems like he's on pace for 17 or 18 innings if all goes well from here on in and if we have the innings to give him."
The Red Sox have carefully monitored Cook ?? who has battled shoulder injuries in the past years ?? and eased him into the pitching program this spring. To accomplish that, the team has limited Cook's innings and pitches in between sessions.
Despite the bleak outlook for Opening Day, Valentine said Cook was in the team's plans.
"We'd like him to be a starter," Valentine said. "He seems like a pitcher to me. If he has that sinker he had [Sunday], consistently, he can be a contributing factor, especially at our place."
Cook tossed two scoreless innings in Sunday's 6-1 win over the Orioles, striking out a batter while walking two others.