SEATTLE — Aaron Cook expected he would be ready to rejoin the Red Sox after the All-Star break, the team having scheduled a series of rehabilitation starts for him at Triple A Pawtucket.
Those plans changed when Clay Buchholz landed in the hospital with a case of esophagitis. Cook was called up to face the Atlanta Braves last Sunday at Fenway Park and pitched five solid innings in a game the Sox won, 9-4.
With Buchholz on the disabled list, Cook remains in the rotation and will pitch against the Mariners Friday night.
Cook threw 79 pitches against the Braves and felt he had more left.
“I felt really good. Recovered a lot better that I thought I was going to,” Cook said Thursday. “I feel like we’re definitely building up and going in the right direction. Hopefully I can go there this time and try and push seven, eight innings.”
Manager Bobby Valentine thought that start was a good step for Cook.
“Considering he’s still finishing up a rehab, he was able to throw enough pitches to progress from the last time he pitched,’’ Valentine said. “He threw pitches up in the zone that had enough sink on them to still be effective and he maintained all his pitches through the 79 pitches that he threw. If he can build on that, I like what we have.”
It has been an odd season for Cook. The 33-year-old righthander, who has dealt with shoulder problems for several years, started the season in the minors so he could build up arm strength. When he made his debut with the Sox May 5, he was spiked while covering home plate and suffered a deep gash in his left knee.
Starting two major league games in a row is a bit of an accomplishment.
“It is nice to be healthy and taking the ball every fifth day,” said Cook. “I’m having a lot of fun.”
Cook is one of eight starters the Red Sox have used this season. With Buchholz and Josh Beckett on the DL and Daniel Bard in the minors, depth has come into play.
That was part of the reason Cook signed a minor league deal with the Sox, knowing the chance would eventually come.
Crawford lets loose
Carl Crawford played his second game in left field for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and made a long throw to the plate without elbow pain, according to Valentine.
“We had the cutoff man set up for him where he could throw it short and he didn’t want to throw it short,” Valentine said. “He wanted to throw it long to see how it felt and he said it felt fine.”
Crawford was 1 for 3 with a walk in the game in Sarasota, Fla. He is 2 for 9 with three walks in three games.
Jacoby Ellsbury is set be the designated hitter for the GCL team Friday afternoon. It will be the first injury rehab game for Ellsbury since he partially dislocated his right shoulder April 13.
Scott Podsednik, out with a groin strain, will start a rehab assignment with Pawtucket Friday.
Ryan Sweeney, who is on the DL with a stress fracture in his left big toe, took batting practice in the cage Thursday. According to the report Valentine was given, that was the “initiation of land-based activities.” Previously Sweeney was working out in a pool.
There is no date set for Sweeney to start a rehab assignment.
Rich Hill is 7-10 days away from throwing in the bullpen as he recovers from a flexor tendon strain in his left elbow. “My arm feels great playing catch,” he said. “Now we have to build back up and eventually get back on the mound. It has been going really well.”
Andrew Bailey is playing long toss and getting close to returning to the mound. The closer, out all season recovering from thumb surgery, threw two bullpen sessions before being slowed own because of a sore arm.
Maine native Charlie Furbush is having a season worthy of All-Star consideration for the Mariners.
A 26-year-old lefthander from Portland, Furbush went into Thursday’s game with a 1.95 earned run average and a 0.62 WHIP over 28 appearances and 32⅓ innings.
Furbush also was working on a streak of 20 scoreless innings over 16 appearances dating to May 15. He had allowed three hits with three walks and 29 strikeouts.
Furbush pitched two innings against the Sox at Fenway Park May 15, giving up a run in the fifth inning, then throwing a scoreless sixth to start his streak.
Furbush started his career at St. Joseph’s College in Maine before transferring to LSU. He was drafted by Detroit in 2007 and traded to the Mariners in 2011 with two other players for Doug Fister.
All-Star voting closes
Fan voting for the All-Star Game ended Thursday night. David Ortiz had a commanding lead at DH but no other Sox were close at their positions. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a worthy candidate for a backup spot. He has an .840 OPS, 14 homers, and 35 RBIs. “He’s played like an All-Star. I hope he gets the recognition from whoever it is that selects him,” Valentine said. “He has been playing great.” . . . Valentine had not managed at Safeco Field since the 2001 All-Star Game. Then the Mets manager, Valentine recalled giving Albert Pujols, then a rookie, the lineup card. Pujols played third base and second base in that game. The AL beat the NL, 4-1.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.