BOSTON After beginning his season in Triple A, and negotiating a call-up, this was not the way Aaron Cook wanted to begin his Red Sox career.
Facing the Orioles at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon, Cook cruised through the first inning. He needed just nine pitches to induce three groundballs to shortstop Mike Aviles.
But, his fortunes turned in the second. With two outs, he gave up consecutive hits, putting runners at first and third. On a passed ball by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Davis broke from third, Cook rushing to cover the plate. While Davis scored, the bigger damage was to Cooks left knee, which landed on Davis spike opening a gash that would eventually require 11 stitches.
Cook left the field and went to the dugout, appearing to be done Clayton Mortense ran in from the dugout to take the mound. But after a short delay, Cook returned to the mound. He got out of the inning, with another groundball out, but was mostly ineffective from that point. After retiring Robert Andino to lead off the third, he allowed the next seven batters to reach base. Of the final 11 batters he faced, nine reached base with seven scoring.
When I slid into the plate I came down on top of his back spike and at first I didnt think it was that bad and Salty was like, Hey, you might want to take a look at it. I see blood coming down your pants. When I looked at it, it was just kind of fileted open a little bit. So went back in the dugout and had the trainers just wrap it up real tight and try to put as much pressure on it as possible. My leg started getting numb after that. But it was my decision. I wanted to go out there and try to eat up some more innings. The bullpens been kind of taxed. But at the end of the day I dont know if it was the best decision, but it was what I was wanting to do."
Cook lasted just 2 23 innings, giving up seven runs, six earned on eight hits and a walk with a home run and a wild pitch. He was charged with the loss, his ERA at 20.25, as the Sox fell, 8-2.
I was feeling really good the first two innings then all of a sudden my pitches were up in the zone in the third inning, he said. So to be honest , my knee and the front of my leg was kind of numb. So I was really just out there throwing all arm and thats when you start to see the ball get flat and it was just up in the zone. So I just made bad pitches after that. I probably could have thrown a little bit slower and got down in the zone. But it was just one of those days.
I think it affected him a lot, Saltalamacchia said of Cooks injury. You got to change your motions a little bit Just a lot of stuff goes on when you got a hole in your knee. But he got back in there. I was surprised he even came back and pitched.
It was not the way Cook wanted to start.
Its frustrating, Cook said. But theres things you can control. Things you cant control. Like I said I was trying to stop in front of the plate and he made a perfect slide into the plate. My momentum took me into the plate. I knew I cant control things that happen like that. So Im going to try to keep a smile on my face. Try to encourage the guys, and come out tomorrow and see how it feels.
Its uncertain what is next for Cook, or if this injury will set him back.
The medical staff thought he was OK to pitch and they said he should be OK to pitch next time, said manager Bobby Valentine. Im not sure.
Cook was delayed in spring training, a cautionary move because of past shoulder injuries. This is one of several odd injuries hes incurred, in addition to a broken leg and broken finger.
Thats just the way life is, he said. We were out there, I was trying to make a good baseball play, I was trying to stop in front of the plate, thats why I slid. And its just one of those things that happens. Its part of baseball.