Decision time for Red Sox on Cook

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Decision time for Red Sox on Cook

BOSTON Before Aaron Cook has to make his decision, the Red Sox will have to make theirs: Add the right-hander to their major league roster or risk losing him. Cooks opt-out date is tomorrow.

In five starts, spanning 33 13 innings, for Triple-A Pawtucket Cook has posted a record of 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA, with two complete games. He has held opponents to a .217 average. He leads the International League in innings pitched, is second in wins, fourth in ERA.

General manager Ben Cherington was in this afternoon, manager Bobby Valentine said before Mondays game against the As. We talked again on that. Im sure that he has all of his ducks in order. I dont know exactly when, why, how with these deadlines and all that stuff, but everyones opinion has been shared.

Cook signed with the Red Sox this offseason as a minor league free agent, after 10 seasons with the Rockies. He has made 238 career starts, with 32 appearances out of the bullpen. He made one relief appearance last season. Before that, the last time he came out of the bullpen was in 2003, his first full season in the big leagues when 27 of his 43 appearances were in relief.

Manager Bobby Valentine said today if Cook is brought up, it would be to work out of the bullpen.

I havent talked to him, So I can't speak for him, Valentine said, when asked if Cook was receptive to that plan.

Cook has a 1.86 groundball-to-fly out ratio with Pawtucket, and a 1.91 big league career mark.

When he throws the sinker its a real good pitch. The hitters hit the top of it, Valentine said.

The evaluation process for someone in Triple A is done by a collection of things -- his numbers and what the uniformed people see and what the people in the stands see. Its always a collection to let you know what weight you put on it.

Cook was delayed in spring training, as a precaution because of past shoulder issues. He appeared in four Grapefruit League games, making three starts, plus a start in a minor league this spring. In league games, he went 14 13 innings, going 1-0 with an ERA of 1.88.

He didn't pitch that well but when he was throwing well and had that sinker I really liked it, Valentine said. Its a little different pitch than many people feature. Competitiveness, he works quickly, he fields his position, has game presence--all that good stuff. I like that, too.

But after being a starter this season and primarily in his career, how difficult will it be for Cook to make that adjustment?

I think it'll be challenging, Valentine said. You dont know whats going to happen. Right now I couldnt say that it could be anything other than that.

After this three-game series with As, the Sox have an off-day scheduled for Thursday. After that, they dont have another off-day until May 24, giving them 20 games in 20 days perhaps necessitating an extra starter.

I think thats a factor, a consideration, Valentine said.

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

For a Red Sox team that has been the best in baseball in September and had won 11 straight prior to last night, you have to admit: There are a lot of things that could go the other way with this team in the playoffs that wouldn't surprise you.

To wit:

-- Would it surprise you if David Price blew up again in the postseason? He has a 5.12 career postseason ERA and has never won a playoff start. Was last night a precursor? He looked like his old shaky October self with a chance to clinch the division in Yankee Stadium.

-- Would it surprise you if Clay Buchholz crapped his pants when it mattered most? This is your No. 3 starter, folks, or No. 4 at worst. He's getting the ball in the playoffs either way, and if I told you that two months ago you'd tell me the Sox are sunk. He looks good now, but we all know he is the ultimate tease.

-- Would it surprise you if John Farrell blows a game with a bone-headed decision from the bench? Of course not; he's been doing that for nearly four years. Yes, he did it all the way to a title in 2013, but the possibility remains very real. It's in the back of most everyone's mind.

-- Would it surprise you if Koji Uehara regresses and the eighth inning once again becomes a problem? Uehara certainly has the experience and has pitched well recently, but the fact is that it feels like his arm is attached by a noodle.

-- Would it surprise you if some of the Sox' youth shows its age? It shouldn't. Happens all the time. Would it surprise you if Craig Kimbrel can't find the plate in a big save situation? It shouldn't. He's shown glimpses of it all season and has never pitched past the division series in his career. Would it surprise you if Hanley Ramirez makes an important mistake at first? Or the Sox' hole at third becomes a factor? Nope and nope.

We could play this game all night.

Now, what do I think is going to happen? I think the Sox are going to pitch well, even Price, and the offense will remain a force. I have full faith in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Rick Porcello and the lineup in general. There's a feeling on this team that's hard to ignore, likely inspired by Ortiz, and I think they'll keep it going in the postseason. I agree with those who say the Sox have the most talent in the American League, so that's a great place to start. I don't know if that means the ALCS, the World Series or a championship. I just think they'll continue to play well into October.

But all of that is just a feeling, just a prediction -- and you know what those are good for. The point is this: If it goes the other way for the Sox, I think we already have the reasons why.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.