FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Aaron Cook may be a longshot to make the Red Sox' starting rotation at the beginning of the year, but he's busy thinking about building up arm strength and not the long odds he's facing.
Cook pitched four innings against the New York Yankees Thursday night, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out two and didn't walk a batter over 48 pitches.
"I felt really good,'' he said. "I was able to establish early strikes and get them swinging. I feel like I had good command of the strike zone all night.''
The veteran righty used his sinker effectively and recorded half of his 12 outs on the ground.
"It's worked really good,'' said Cook. "It's been going down rather than move to the right, it's a lot better. It's down below their (swing path) and when it's moving from side-to-side, they can usually stay on it and drive the ball.''
Cook also picked off two baserunners at first, showing a quick and deceptive move.
"Playing in the National League all those years, we worked really hard on controlling the running game,'' he said. "I took a lot of pride in being able to do that on my own. I look for opportunities to use my quick move and slide step.''
Cook's minor league pitching coach earlier in his career was current Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure and the two worked together developing a good pickoff move.
Signed to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, Cook is at something of a disadvantage since the Sox could easily stash him at Pawtucket to begin the season rather than having him in the rotation at the expense of someone already on the 40-man roster.
"I signed a minor league deal here,'' he said. "I knew that they had a couple of spots there were trying to fill and I felt like it was a great opportunity for me to come and prove myself. I want to go out there, show that I'm healthy and throw strikes, take us deep into games and make it be a hard decision for them to make.''
Slowed somewhat by shoulder issues early in camp, Cook got a delayed start. Where other candidates have made four or five outings, his start Thursday was just his third.
But he believes there's still time.
"There's still about two weeks,'' he said, ''still a lot of baseball left. Anything can happen. I'm just going to keep going out there when they give me the ball and hopefully I'm ready to go.''