With Josh Beckett shelved for one start with lat soreness, Cook will toe the rubber in Saturday's game against the Orioles. Once it's over, the sinkerball specialist could wind up in Boston's bullpen. And he's doesn't have any qualms about the possibility.
"I wouldn't be opposed," Cook said. "Pitching here and contributing in any way is what I want to do, but you know, my main focus is [Saturday], I got to go out there, take the ball and after that, we'll worry about that."
Since spring training, the Red Sox always viewed Cook as a starter. The 33-year-old shined in that role in Triple-A, compiling a 3-0 record and 1.89 ERA through five starts with the PawSox.
Cook cites his health for his renewed success. In recent years, he's been a victim of bad luck, suffering a broken finger –– while closing a door –– and a broken leg and chronic shoulder problems.
The latter issue was a main concern in Fort Myers, which caused the Red Sox to place Cook on a strict regimen. As a result of the time off in between starts, Cook's shoulder feels as healthy as ever.
"I don't even know if you can put the shoulder from last year and the shoulder from this year in the same category," Cook said. "They have a really good shoulder program here. The training staff has done an excellent job monitoring everything from day one of spring training and it's really paid off being patient."
After Saturday, he may have to take the tolerant approach to the bullpen. Cook hasn't pitched regularly in relief since 2003, when he was 1-0 with a 6.08 ERA in 27 appearances for Colorado.
Judging by the results of his recent outings, Cook expects to make a seamless transition if necessary.
"I've been working really hard on my sinker, getting late into games, throwing more pitches and innings," Cook said. "I've been able to use my breaking stuff more effectively too, which –– once I get guys swinging at the sinker down and away and sinker in — then you can mix it up a little bit and keep them off-beat a little bit."
He'll have at least one start with the Red Sox to execute that plan.
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