MINNEAPOLIS -- As pitching coach Bob McClure put it last week, the Red Sox have "got a lot of options" with their pitching staff, and "a lot of decisions come with it -- tough ones and good ones."
Veteran Aaron Cook tossed seven innings of one-run ball Monday in the second game of a doubleheader at Triple-A Pawtucket, and on May 1, the right-hander can ask to be released if he's not on the big league roster within 48 hours. Minor League doubleheaders are seven innings long, so Cook pitched a complete game in the 7-1 home win over Durham, a Rays affiliate.
"He pitched last night," manager Bobby Valentine said. "He has another start down there.''
Cook is one of three Red Sox pitchers at Pawtucket whom the team might have to find roster space for soon. Lefties Andrew Miller and Rich Hill, both rehabbing at Pawtucket and listed on the 15-day disabled list, began their rehabs on April 7. Pitchers can stay in the Minors for no more than 30 days when rehabbing.
Adding Cook would require a 40-man roster spot. In a WEEI radio interview on the "Mut & Merloni" radio show on WEEI on Tuesday, Cook said he feels he's shown he can help the big league club.
"I just feel like I'm healthy," the 33-year-old said. "I feel like I've done what I've needed to do. Hopefully I will get a phone call by May 1.
"[The opt-out date is] always in the back of your mind, but you can't control it 'till it comes. As of now, I'm still down here. I'm going to do what I can to try to win my next start, and when May 1 comes, me and my agent will have a conversation about what's going on if I haven't gotten a phone call yet."
Cook is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA for Pawtucket, with nine walks and eight strikeouts in 27 innings. Cook has never been a strikeout pitcher or anything resembling one in his 10 big league seasons, all with Colorado.
Cook's last two seasons in the Majors have been rough, with a combined 5.49 ERA. Cook would make a pro-rated $1.5 million salary in the Majors, and he could make as much as $750,000 more depending on the number of appearances he makes.
Cook has a second opt-out date on June 1, but considering how well he's performing, he might not have much incentive to stick around in the Red Sox's farm system if other teams show interest.
"If I stick around a little longer, I have a June 1 [opt-out] and get a little extra bonus," Cook said. "I don't know how much discussion there would be [of extending the May 1 opt-out]."
Miller (left hamstring) tossed a scoreless inning and picked up a save in Game 1 of the PawSox's twin bill Monday. Overall, he's made seven rehab appearances, five with Pawtucket. Hill (Tommy John recovery) made his seventh rehab outing Wednesday, pitching a scoreless frame vs. Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.