"On the Spring Training calendar, I'd be getting ready for my first start -- the two-inning start," Cook said. "I'm supposed to throw 30-40 pitches of live BP to simulate two innings tomorrow, then two to three innings in an extended spring game in Tucson. From there, I hope to get a couple starts in [Double-A] Tulsa and get ready."
Cook, 32, has had to watch a rotation that has performed well, with the exception of Jimenez's 0-2 mark and 7.20 ERA in a year interrupted by a thumb injury. If the entire rotation is hot when he is ready to return, fitting him in would be a challenge. Generally, the ebb and flow of the season will take care of that. At any rate, Cook isn't hoping someone has a misfortune that makes his return a screaming need.
"Everybody in this clubhouse is on the same page," Cook said. "If everybody is getting the job done, that's what needs to happen. I pull for every one of these guys. When I come back, if it's starting or bullpen or they're not ready to take me off the DL, then I'll do whatever I can to be ready when they need me."
The Rockies are happy to see him, even if they aren't going to be able to have him full-time for another month or so.
"Just for a quick glance, when 'Cookie' came through as we were getting our work done this afternoon, he looks terrific, as well as I've seen him look in a while," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "What that correlates to remains to be seen. But it goes without saying the work and effort that he's put in, to be in the position he's in physically, is very impressive to see."
Cook hopes his return will begin a new, smoother phase of his career.
Cook went 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA in 2008, a year that included a dramatic three-inning appearance for the National League in the All-Star Game. After that, though, he was beset by a right shoulder strain in late '09, a series of ailments such as turf toe, a recurrence of turf toe and a broken right fibula last season, and this spring, right shoulder soreness and the broken finger -- when he accidentally shut it in a house door.
"After that All-Star Game, I finished up '08 pretty well, and after that it's been a battle," Cook said. "I've had some injuries and I haven't pitched the way I wanted to. Last year, I got into such a funk that when I ended up getting hurt it was kind of a blessing. I got to go down and work on my mechanics.
"Then, after breaking my finger in Spring Training, I was like, 'What in the world?' But I've been able to take my time to get where I want to be mentally and physically. I'm looking at it as I'm taking a little extra time off right now, but I should be able to finish the season strong."