HE’S A GOOD COOK

     The early season success of the PawSox isn’t all that hard to figure out.  Explosive offense, good defense and incredible pitching.  The man who has set the pace on the mound for Pawtucket is right hander Aaron Cook.  Cook, the Colorado Rockies all time wins leader (72) signed with the Sox as an option to be a fourth or fifth starter.  Cook seems pleased with his early season progress.  “Everything feels good right now.  My mechanics, my pitches are doing what I want them to do.  I’m really comfortable with the way things are going.”

     Aaron seems to think that good pitching, like good hitting, can be contagious.  “Guys tend to feed off each other.  We have a real positive enegy working right now.  Starting pitchers go out there now and don’t want to let anybody down.  The bullpen is doing the same thing.  It’s been fun to watch.  Really good.”

     With his 2-0 record and 1.35 ERA, Cook is certain to attract the attention of the front office in Boston.  “More than what the stats are saying, my mechanics…I’m healthy and able to throw the ball where I want.  That’s something I haven’t been able to do for two years with all the injuries I’ve had.  That’s the thing I’m most impressed with myself about.  I’m healthy, I can repeat my delivery I can throw the ball where I want, and the stats are proving that right now.”

     Cook comes from Fort Campbell, Kentucky and went to Hamilton High School in Ohio.  His biography on Wikipedia says he surrendered just one home run in high school, to a man who is beloved in the Nation.  Aaron sets us straight.  “I gave up more than one, but in my senior year I gave one up to Kevin Youkilis.  That’s something I’ll neve forget.  We played together on the same team when we were 13, 14, 15, and competed against each other all through high school.  I definitely remember that.  Cook smiled.  “I gave up more than one.  That’s for sure.”

     As a starter for the Rockies, Cook was caught by Rhode Islander, Chris Ianetta.  Aaron has a lot of respect for Ianetta.  “He’s a great catcher.  He works his butt off, day in and day out.  He receives the ball well and more than that, he studies scouting reports more intensely than anybody I know.  When he’s back there, you know he’s calling the game for the right reason.  He very rarely makes mistakes and that makes it easier for a pitcher to just go out there and worry about executing pitches.” 

      Despite being on the losing end of the 2007 World Series, Cook has fond memories.  He started game four and was opposed by Jon Lester.  “It was awesome.  Even though we didn’t win a single game in the Series.  To make the playoffs, winning 21 of 22, for me pitching in the World Series is something I’ll never forget.  I wish the results could have been different, but there are so many great players, so many Hall of Famers that never played in the World Series, and that is something that I don’t take lightly.”   

     On the bus ride home from Syracuse the other day, I was sandwiched in by National League All Stars.  Cook (2008) sat behind me, while Gerald Perry, who was recognized 20 years earlier, sat in front of me.  Aaron recalled his experience at old Yankee Stadium.  “I came in, we had extra innings.  It was 12:05 a.m.  My wife was pregnant, sitting in the stands, about to give birth to our third child.  Two minutes later, I had loaded the bases, with no outs.  Russell Martin, who catches for the Yankees, was with the Dodgers then.  He came out and said ‘well, what do you think?’  I told him I wasn’t a strikeout pitcher and that we’d have to get ground balls to third and short.  I somehow got out of that, and when all was said and done, I pitched three innings and didn’t give up a run.  Again, something I’ll never forget.”

     Cook has an “out clause” in his contract, meaning that if he isn’t promoted to Boston by May 1, he has the option to leave and look for work elsewhere.  Right now, he says that’s the furthest thing from his mind.  “I’m here in Pawtucket and I know I’ve got a couple  of starts left before May.  It’s something I’m trying not to think about.  I just want to go out and try to repeat the things I’ve been doing.”

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