Cook breaks ring finger on throwing hand

Cook breaks ring finger on throwing hand

Cook breaks ring finger on throwing hand
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The bad luck for Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook turned worse on Friday, when manager Jim Tracy announced that Cook will miss "a few weeks" after suffering a broken ring finger on this throwing hand. He accidentally slammed the finger in a house door.

The injury virtually guarantees that Cook, who has had a long list of injuries in recent years, will begin the regular season on the disabled list. Cook had not pitched in Cactus League action because of right shoulder soreness.

"My understanding is he was going out the door and realized there was something that he had forgotten and quickly went back to get back in, and the door had obviously closed and caught his finger and smashed it," Tracy said.

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Unless the Rockies make a deal, right-hander Esmil Rogers appears to have the inside track on a starting rotation job. However, righty John Maine, less than a year removed from shoulder surgery, will get a shot, as will righty Clayton Mortensen. Former top Draft pick Greg Reynolds is also in the mix.

Cook had progressed to the point where he was throwing from the slope of the mound on Tuesday, but he had not thrown a bullpen session since the injury and had not faced hitters. Now the process is halted while the injury heals.

When Cook arrived Friday morning, it was clear that the nail on the finger was shattered and would have to be removed. X-rays revealed the broken bone.

The Rockies were already making contingency plans, but were hoping Cook would be ready.

Rogers, a starter throughout his Minor League career, pitched in relief in 20 of his 28 appearances with the Rockies last season as a rookie. The 25-year-old has a 6.00 ERA in nine innings over three Spring Training appearances. His start Thursday against the Brewers was well-received, even though he gave up a three-run homer to Ryan Braun.

Mortensen, scheduled to appear Saturday afternoon against the Padres, has given up one run in four innings this spring. However, Tracy and Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca told Mortensen on Thursday that they wanted him to make changes in his delivery. Tracy said that they told Mortensen not to worry if some of his results are poor in the initial outings after the change. The Rockies acquired Mortensen, 25, from the Athletics for right-handed Minor League pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth in late January.

Maine was 1-3 with a 6.13 ERA in nine starts for the Mets last season before undergoing season-ending right shoulder surgery in late July. The Rockies signed Maine, who turns 30 on May 8, to a Minor League contract after Spring Training began. Maine, who has thrown well and shown ahead-of-schedule fastball velocity, threw two scoreless innings in Cactus League play and will face the Angels in a "B" game on Monday in Tempe, Ariz.

Reynolds, 25, was selected second overall out of Stanford in 2006. He will start Saturday night against the D-backs in the second game of a day-night doubleheader. Reynolds, who has dealt with various shoulder injuries and suffered a cracked right elbow when hit with a line drive last spring, has a 5.79 ERA in nine Cactus League innings, but most of that damage came in one inning.

Cook, 32, the franchise leader in wins (69), starts (189), quality starts (105) and innings pitched (1,215 1/3), arrived at camp not able to fully participate in conditioning. The broken right tibia that he suffered when hit by a line drive from the Reds' Joey Votto last Aug. 5 had healed. However, Cook had not been cleared to take part in distance running.

Last year was one of much pain for Cook. He struggled for much of the year, then went on the disabled list with a hyperextended right big toe -- the recurrence of an injury he suffered in 2009, one that might have caused a change in motion that led to a shoulder strain that put him on the DL late in the year. When he returned, he pitched well in two starts before the injury.

In 2007, Cook was the Opening Day starter, but he was felled by a right oblique strain in August. He didn't pitch again until Game 4 of the World Series against the Red Sox. Cook gave up three runs and six hits in six innings of the Red Sox's clinching 4-3 victory.

Cook's latest injury leaves right-hander Jason Hammel, a 10-game winner the last two seasons who moves to the No. 4 slot in the rotation, shaking his head.

"We need to get 'Cookie' a bubble to protect him," Hammel said. "It just seems like it's one thing after another.

"It's something you can't control. But he's going to do his best to get right and get back to where he needs to be. He's a professional."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.