Sox may consider Cook in relief


Sox may consider Cook in relief

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.

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge


MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."