Darron Cummings / The Associated Press

Oakland Athletics' Ryan Cook takes a throw during a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Phoenix.

Ex-closer Cook stars as team's setup man

Published: Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 - 12:34 pm

TORONTO – Ryan Cook is a hard-throwing, 26-year-old right-hander who in the past year has emerged as possibly the best setup reliever in baseball.

He hasn't allowed a run in over a month. He hasn't allowed an earned run since June 22, a stretch of 16 1/3 innings. His ERA is a sparkling 1.99.

But Cook doesn't see himself as pitching that well. If the A's are doing well, he is, too. If the A's are struggling – which they are now, having lost 10 of 18 since the All-Star break – so is he.

"To be honest, I couldn't tell you what my numbers are," Cook said. "All that matters is that we are doing well overall. It's about winning here."

How ironic that a year ago at this time, Cook was being demoted from his role as closer. He had blown four of six save opportunities between July 20 and Aug. 8, 2012, and manager Bob Melvin decided the A's would be better off with Grant Balfour pitching the ninth inning.

Far from objecting to Balfour taking over as the closer, Cook celebrated the move and has thrived in his setup role.

"The truth is that I had my shot as closer," Cook said, "and while I'd like to close again one day, I like this job now, getting the ball to Grant. That's how I can help us the best. To get the ball to Balfour for the win is what it's about for me."

Cook started the 2012 season with 23 scoreless innings, which led to becoming the closer and the A's lone All-Star. But after a stretch of 10 saves in 12 opportunities, he hit the skids in late July. It culminated with allowing game-tying home runs in back-to-back appearances against the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 3 and 4.

That led to the role reversal with Balfour, who allowed only 15 baserunners in his final 23 games and recorded 17 saves. Cook set up many of those saves by posting a 0.72 ERA in his final 23 games.

Note – Oakland's roster will undergo two changes this weekend while the A's are north of the border to play the Blue Jays.

Joining the A's today will be veteran infielder Adam Rosales, claimed by the club Thursday after the Texas Rangers put him on waivers. It was an exceedingly short spell with the Rangers for Rosales, who was claimed by Texas from Oakland on Aug. 2.

On Saturday, it's virtually certain that former first-round draft pick Sonny Gray will be moved into the A's starting rotation. The A's have created an opening, and it would otherwise be Gray's day to pitch for the River Cats.

The A's will have to make a roster move to add Rosales, who did not play for the Rangers, but it does not appear that second baseman Alberto Callaspo, who injured his left forearm Wednesday in Cincinnati, will go on the disabled list.

The A's probably will return reliever Evan Scribner to the River Cats.

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Read more articles by John Hickey



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