CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies entered Spring Training expecting veterans Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez to pitch in the Triple-A Lehigh Valley rotation.
Both are gone.
They released Lopez last week. For Cook, the Phillies had a deadline of noon on Tuesday to decide whether to promise a him a spot on the 25-man roster, pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to pitch in Triple-A or release him. Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said after a discussion with Cook's agent they decided to release him.
"We decided that was the best thing to do," Proefrock said. "It was our decision, but I think Ruben [Amaro Jr.] was cognizant and considerate of the player's feelings of the circumstances."
Cook went 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in six Grapefruit League appearances, but went 13-29 with a 5.54 ERA the previous three seasons, including 20 strikeouts in 18 starts last year with the Red Sox. Cook's departure sets up a Triple-A rotation with right-handers Tyler Cloyd, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin and B.J. Rosenberg and left-hander Adam Morgan, although Proefrock said nothing has been finalized.
If the Phillies needed a sixth starter immediately, Cloyd could have the edge based on experience, but Morgan has impressed the Phillies this spring. It simply may be the hottest hand at the time.
"I think it remains to be seen, but we do have options," Proefrock said. "And that's the positive aspect of it. I think we feel pretty good about the depth we have. It is experienced? Probably not as experienced as you'd like, but they've got to get experience somehow."
Of course, there is a possibility that Cook could return to the Phillies if he doesn't find a better situation elsewhere.
"I don't think we've closed any doors, and I don't think he did, either," Proefrock said. "You just have to wait and see how things play out. But at this time, we thought it was the right thing to do for all involved."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.