Boston Red Sox Option Pitchers Aaron Cook and Ross Ohlendorf to Pawtucket

After the Boston Red Sox named Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard their fourth and fifth starters, the club optioned pitchers Aaron Cook and Ross Ohlendorf to Triple-A Pawtucket Tuesday.

Cook had an excellent spring training, working four 14 1/3 innings and going 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in four appearances (three starts). Ohlendorf did not perform nearly as well, to say the least, tallying a daunting 4.76 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, and a .310 opponents’ batting average over 11 1/3 innings in five appearances (one start).

With the demotions, manager Bobby Valentine appears to have given the last two slots on the pitching staff to Michael Bowden and Vicente Padilla, both of whom could are potential candidates to replace closer Andrew Bailey while he recovers from surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.

There are still two more roster slots to be filled, at least one of which could be for a pitcher; according to the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, the candidates for those slots are pitchers Scott Atchison and Justin Thomas, catcher Dan Butler, infielders Pedro Ciriaco and Nate Spears, and outfielder Jason Repko. Given Atchison’s experience with the Red Sox in both 2010 and 2011 (3-3, 4.09 ERA, 1.26 WHIP in 90 1/3 innings over 60 appearances), and Ciriaco’s impressive showing this spring (.419 average, eight runs batted in, and eight stolen bases in 26 games), they are presumably the leading candidates.

However, it may not be long before either Cook or Ohlendorf sees action with the big league club. In addition to Bailey’s injury, no. 2 starter Josh Beckett is seeing a specialist in San Antonio for a right thumb injury of his own.

Needless to say, between Bowden, Padilla, and Atchison, among others, the Red Sox have plenty options to tide themselves over during their absences. But how long will the reserves be needed? And are they up to the task for that period of time?

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