SEATTLE -- A little side work seems to have done the trick for Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Cook, who is showing signs of regaining his form from earlier this season.
After a rocky stretch in which Cook allowed five runs over five outings, the hard-throwing right-hander has put together three straight scoreless efforts. With help from pitching coach Curt Young and manager Bob Melvin, Cook has smoothed out a mechanical issue that also hindered him last season.
Cook said he was rotating his body too much at the top of his leg kick, which was throwing off his command.
“I was getting really rotational,” he said Saturday morning. “I don’t know if there’s other guys out there that being rotational works for, but for me it’s not good. Everything had to wind and unwind, wind and unwind, and as a result I couldn’t locate my fastball. When I did come in the zone with it, it was flat and not to a good location. It was just over the plate.”
Cook struck out Justin Smoak on a 97-mph fastball for his first out of the seventh inning Friday and gave up just a single to Mike Zunino in a shutout inning.
[RECAP: A's 8, Mariners 2]
The bullpen combination of Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour is important to Melvin’s late-game decision-making. He had been quick to pull Cook when things went south on him during an inning, but he is regaining confidence in the right-hander.
In addition to the improved mechanics, Melvin believes Cook is taking the right mental outlook to the mound as well.
“There are times you get out of whack and do have to make some adjustments, but sometimes it’s just as big for you mentally as it is physically,” Melvin said. “It’s all about him throwing the ball over the plate. When he throws the ball over the plate, he’s really good and we’ve seen that the last couple times out.”
Melvin did not expect Yoenis Cespedes to throw our swing the bat a day after the left fielder exited the game with pain in his right shoulder. It’s unknown if Cespedes will be available in Sunday’s regular-season finale.
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He re-injured his shoulder swinging the bat Friday. Melvin said he wasn’t anticipating Cespedes to undergo a second MRI, since the one he had last week seemed to reveal everything that was needed to know. Cespedes has been diagnosed with tendinitis in the shoulder.
“There’s a lot going on (with his swing),” Melvin said. “He creates a lot of torque. It’s just who he is. But it is a concern that he’s had a few days off and we got him back in the field and had to take him out. Hopefully it’s something that’s manageable.”