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.

Farrell: 'Strike-throwing is a priority' for Owens in Triple A

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Farrell: 'Strike-throwing is a priority' for Owens in Triple A

NEW YORK -- Following a six-walk effort Thursday in Chicago, Henry Owens found himself optioned back to Pawtucket Friday, removed from the Red Sox rotation after three sub-par starts.

Owens lasted just three-plus innings Thursday, and allowed two runs. In three starts since being promoted to replace Joe Kelly in the Red Sox rotation, Owens walked 13 in 12 1/3 innings while allowing 13 hits for a ghastly 2.108 WHIP and a 5.11 ERA.

"Henry needs to go back and learn to command his fastball with more consistency,'' said John Farrell. "He's got an outstanding changeup that can get him back in some counts and get him away from some damage. But the strike-throwing is a priority here.''

In addition to wildness, Owens saw his velocity dip, with his fastball topping out at 90 mph most times.

But Farrell insisted there isn't a physical issue with the lefty.

"One thing that we can for sure rule out is health,'' said Farrell. "There's no health issues at play here. I think when a pitcher's delivery is not in sync, he's not getting the most power out of it (in terms of velocity). And then, with the strike throwing, it becomes a confidence factor. I don't want to say he was tentative or it was a lack of aggressiveness, but I think when you're feeling for pitches to try to get them in the strike zone, there might be a tentativeness that takes over.''

Owens has a quality changeup that can throw off hitters' timing and get weak contact, as happened Thursday night. But that pitch is only effective when he can set it up more with his fastball.

"That creates a little more margin for error,'' said Farrell of the changeup as a weapon, "but you've got to be in the strike zone first.''

Owens seemed to regress some from last year, when he was 4-4 in 11 starts with a 4.57 ERA. He pitched into the eighth inning in three straight starts in September.

"It's the second time he's been in the big leagues with us,'' said Farrell. "When the opportunity presents, you take it and run with it. I felt last year, he pitched effectively. He pitched very good at times. There were a couple of starts where he didn't have his best stuff, but he found his way into the sixth or into the seventh inning. That was (what we were hoping for) last year. OK, he's battling but he's finding a way to get through it.

"As far as his opportunity, I'm sure he'll back to us at some point.''

Asked if the Red Sox had expected more from Owens, Farrell didn't mince words.

"Based on what he showed at this level last year, yes,'' said Farrell.

Owens was replaced on the roster by Sean O'Sullivan, who was with the club here Friday afternoon and in the bullpen, at least temporarily.

He could take Owens's spot in the rotation Tuesday.

"He's a candidates, yes,'' said Farrell.

O'Sullivan is with his fifth different organization, having pitched with the Angels, Royals, Padres and Phillies.

He signed with the Red Sox last winter as a free agent, in part attracted by the presence of pitching coordinator Brian Bannister, a one-time teammate of O'Sullivan with the Royals. Bannister has taken an innovative, analytical approach to pitching and has already helped O'Sullivan.

"When he was in (spring training) camp,'' said Farrell, "he showed more arm strength than anticipated. The strike-throwing has been above-average for him. A veteran guy who's pitched at this level for extended outings. We felt like that dependability and durability were also a factor in getting him here.''

Farrell credited an improved cutter and "more consistent location down in the strike one,'' accounting for O'Sullivan's improved results at Triple A.

O'Sullivan wasn't on the 40-man roster until Friday, when he was added. The Sox shifted third baseman Pablo Sandoval to the 60-day DL to make room.

 

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

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Tonight's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

Rick Porcello attempts to increase his record to 6-0 as he starts tonight for the Red Sox against the Yankees in the opener of their three-game series in New York.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DB
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Rick Porcello P

YANKEES
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Aaron Hicks RF
Didi Gregorius SS
Ronnie Torreyes 3B
---
Michael Pineda P

 

McAdam: It's early, but there's good signs with the Red Sox

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McAdam: It's early, but there's good signs with the Red Sox

Sean McAdam talks with Toucher & Rich about the good start the Red Sox have gotten off to this season, playing well on the road and for the most part taking care of business.