BOSTON -- Another day, another roster shuffle for the scrambling Boston Red Sox.
Aaron Cook, who needed 11 stitches to sew up a cut sustained on his left knee in a play at home plate Saturday, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning. Andrew Miller was activated off the DL and will serve as one of three left-handers in the Boston bullpen.
Cook took the start of the sidelined Josh Beckett in his Red Sox debut and was a candidate to make more starts as the club plows through a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Alas, there was no way he would be ready to throw again in five or six days.
Manager Bobby Valentine said that there could be issues of infection if the stitches popped free while pitching. Also, Cook has had shoulder issues in the past. There is no reason to push the issue with him and perhaps wind up with a more serious injury, Valentine said. That explanation is a bit curious given the fact that Cook returned to Saturday’s game after cutting open his knee and proceeded to give up six additional runs before being pulled with two outs in the third.
There was one other big reason for the move to Miller on Sunday.
“We need help in the bullpen,” said Valentine, who has had his relievers throw 13 1/3 innings in the last couple of days.
Enter Miller, who was rehabbing from a strained left hamstring suffered in spring training. Miller made 10 relief appearances for Pawtucket. Depending on which number you look at, he was either awesome or poor -- Miller had a 5.73 ERA and walked an alarming 14 men in 11 innings for the PawSox, but he struck out an equally alarming 23 batters and yielded only four hits.
The 26-year-old feels that the control problems were notable early on in the rehab stint and that he is beyond that. He walked five and gave up only two hits in the last 6 2/3 innings for Pawtucket.
“I pitched twice in Toledo, once two innings, once one inning, and both of them went great,” he said, referring to his most recent outings. “Those are fresh. Those are recent. I hope to carry that along.
“I had two outings that didn’t look good statistically in the middle, and one of them I felt pretty good coming out of. However many appearances I had, looking back, I gave up a two-run homer and I had one outing that I thought was pretty terrible from the get-go, so I’ll take it.”
Miller was 6-3 with a 5.54 ERA in 17 games for Boston last season. Twelve of those appearances came as a starter. That will not be the case this time around.
“I’ve felt good coming out of the bullpen so far. I’m interested to see how it goes for an extended period of time,” he said. “I’ve always been out there as a long guy or gotten inconsistent innings. I’m just looking forward to getting a chance to contribute and help us win some games.”
Miller’s 30-day allotment for rehab was just about to expire, so the move comes at a natural juncture for the club. Valentine said that Miller will be the “first left-hander out of the bullpen,” likely appearing before Rich Hill and Franklin Morales and primarily facing left-handed hitters. Miller held lefties to a .063 average and struck out 13 against just three walks.
In other clubhouse news, Kevin Youkilis has begun a “walking program,” according to Valentine. Youkilis is walking just fine, of course, but he will incorporate structured movements forward and backward and “getting into the pelvic movement that’s needed.”
“He’s progressing. He’ll stay back and not come with us because he doesn’t need the plane ride for his back and he has rehab being done here,” Valentine said.