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A’s catch big break with news Cook isn’t headed for surgery

#A's setup man Ryan Cook got some good news -- he doesn't need surgery

#A’s setup man Ryan Cook got some good news — he doesn’t need surgery

A’s reliever Ryan Cook said there was never a doubt in his mind that the forearm pain he was feeling was not serious.

He might have been the only one. Forearm pain in hard-throwing pitchers is generally the precursor to Tommy John-style surgery where a ligament from the arm or a leg is attached in the elbow.

It means a recovery period of 12-15 months, and losing the hard-throwing Cook for that period of time would have been a severe blow to the Oakland bullpen.

And there were expectations that he might well be on his way to join teammates Jarod Parker and A.J. Griffin as members of the A’s Tommy John club for 2014.

It turns out that Cook knew his own body and the way Tommy John problems are supposed to feel.

“I’ve talked with friends and guys I’ve known who have had Tommy John done,’’ Cook said. “I knew where the pain would be, and I didn’t have it there. So when I left here Wednesday, I was confident, 100 percent confident that this injury wasn’t a big deal.’’

The fact that Cook turned out to be correct is a big deal to the A’s. He and Luke Gregerson give the A’s two experienced hard-throwing right-handed pitchers to be available for the seventh and eighth inning, as needed, in most games.

If the news had been different and if Oakland had been minus Cook for the rest of the season, repeating as American League West champions for a third consecutive season would have become exponentially more difficult. The A’s can take the hit of Cook missing two or three weeks; they have the depth for that.

But this is a team that has already lost two pitchers for the season in Parker and Griffin. No team has the depth to keep losing front-line pitchers for the season.

The A’s depth is being tested, to be sure.

It’s just not being tested as much as it may have seemed just a couple of days ago.

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.