CHICAGO -- Aaron Cook has an opt-out in his contract that allows him to become a free agent if the Red Sox haven't added him to their major league roster by May 1, and all along, it was presumed that the Sox would have to bump someone from their current rotation to make room for Cook.
Now, there may another path.
Bobby Valentine acknowledged that "there have been discussions'' about using Cook out of the Boston bullpen. That would allow the Sox to keep Cook and not displace anyone in the rotation.
Cook has a history of shoulder trouble and the Red Sox delayed his use in games for a bit this spring to give him additional time to build up strength in the shoulder.
"Bob McClure thinks, after talking to him, that it's feasible,'' said Valentine of the Red Sox pitching coach. "Initially, there was a non-consideration. But reports are that he hasn't felt this good about his shoulder in a long time.''
"That surprised me,'' admitted McClure of Cook's willingness to try pitching in relief, "because with Aaron's shoulder, the trainers did such a good job with him this spring, when I talked to him right before we broke (camp), he said he felt that he could pitch out of the bullpen. Before, I don't think he could have, physically -- got up, got down and up.
"He said his shoulder hadn't felt this way in three or four years. So, that being said, right before we broke camp, I asked him and he said he could. Now, it still remains to be seen. But if a guy tells you that, you've got to think maybe he could.''
McClure said he believes Cook's stuff could play well in relief, thought "it's not strikeout stuff; it's mis-hit stuff.''
Until Cook gets comfortable, McClure said the Sox would want to limit to clean innings and not bring him into a game in the middle of an inning.
"You'd try to bring him at first in a clean (inning),'' said McClure. "Matty (Albers) could come in and clean an inning up and then you'd have Cookie behind him.''
Asked if the Sox would like to see Cook pitch in relief in Pawtucket before asking him to do it in the big leagues, McClure, noting the calendar, said: "I don't know if we have enough time to do that.''
Cook is scheduled to start for Pawtucket tonight, his last outing before the May 1 opt-out day arrives.