Valentine: Cook 'more than I was hoping for'

BOSTON -- On a day when Clay Buchholz was placed on the disabled list, Josh Beckett’s timetable was left open-ended and Daniel Bard had another rocky performance with Pawtucket, the Red Sox rotation was in need of another show of support.

Of course, Bard already has been removed from consideration for the starting rotation going forward, but the point is that three-fifths of the Opening Day rotation is not in the mix at the current time. Daisuke Matsuzaka has been pedestrian at best in his return to the starting staff in the wake of Bard’s demotion. Franklin Morales has performed exceptionally well after taking over for Beckett. Sunday it was Aaron Cook’s turn to step up.

While the final line was rather ordinary -- three runs and no strikeouts in five innings -- the Red Sox will take what Cook provided any day of the week, at least until the issues with Beckett and Buchholz are settled. Cook got the decision in a 9-4 win over Atlanta, his first victory since last August while with Colorado.

“Even a little more than I was hoping for,” manager Bobby Valentine said when asked to assess Cook’s contributions.

Cook had just one rehab start since going on the disabled list with a lacerated left knee suffered in his first start with Boston on May 5. He threw 66 pitches in that rehab outing and did not expect to get too far beyond that number on Sunday.

The righty finished with 79 pitches and should have an opportunity to increase the workload his next time out.

“I felt really good. It was nice to get out there and pitch some quality innings and get a win,” Cook said. “My sinker was working, my cutter was working.”

Cook said he feels about 85-90 percent in terms of his strength. Considering the state of things for others that began the year in this rotation, that will suffice.