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New season, new script for Cook

New season, new script for Cook
March 31, 2012
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Lights. Camera. Action.

Those are the final three words so often heard on the set of a television or movie set.  Words that Cleveland Indians right-handed pitching prospect Cole Cook has grown up hearing since the day he was born.

Cook’s father, Peter MacKenzie, is an actor that has been in numerous movies and television shows for the past 25 years. Over the years he has appeared as a character actor in such popular shows as NCIS, How I Met Your Mother, American Dad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy and on and on and on. If you name any show on television over the last 20 years, chances are he has appeared in at least one episode.

Cook grew up as a kid on the set of so many shows, and these days when he is away from baseball he still finds his way back to the set.

“I am a set rat and I love to hang out [on them],” Cook said.

The acting genes from his father did not get passed down to Cook as at this time he has no plans to pursue that line of work, but he has always had a passion for writing - notably script writing. It is something he hopes to get into after he completes a long and successful baseball career.

“That’s what I majored in at school,” Cook said.  “That is what my mom does, and my dad has written a couple of scripts. My uncle wrote ‘Double Jeopardy’ and ‘The Rock’.  He came out with those back to back and got a lot of love for those two movies.”

When he has down time from baseball – and there is a lot of it during the season - Cook finds the time to post entries to his blog Cole Cook’s Dugout Chatter and also tweets a lot through his Twitter account @C_M_Cook. Through both he shares his experiences not only on the diamond but in life is well, and often adds a humorous twist to his tweets and blog posts.

“I tweet a lot,” Cook said.  “I will be doing a lot of Twitter this season. I shut the blog down and then started it back up when I got to spring training. There is not much to blog about when I am just hanging out in [the offseason], but when I am around the field and I have some baseball to do, there is a lot more to write about. I like it, and I like connecting with the fans.”

The writing gives Cook a way to occupy his time during the season. Often times players can find themselves holed up in a hotel on a daily basis from midnight until 3pm before they head to the field, so keeping busy is a tough thing to do.  Not only does the writing help fill time for him, but it also helps bring some perspective to the way he is performing.

“I like writing as it is a way to reflect,” Cook said.  “It is a way to get a second perspective on a rather crazy life...I think some much needed perspective at times.”

While Cook appears destined to be involved in Hollywood someday because of his family ties to the business, his writing career still takes a back seat to his professional baseball career. He was selected in the 5th round of the 2010 Draft, so he is entering into his third season in the Indians organization.

Cook made his pro debut with short season Single-A Mahoning Valley in 2010 and appeared in just four games there, so last season was his first real season as a professional.  In 20 games (19 starts) for Low-A Lake County he went 5-11 with a 4.54 ERA, and in 105 innings allowed 126 hits, 35 walks and had 68 strikeouts.

Cook’s numbers were not up to par last season, but early in the season he was still working his way back from wrist surgery performed by Dr. Tom Graham in November of 2010. The further he got from surgery the more he showed improvement, and he was on a role in July (6 G, 3.94 ERA) when he suffered a strain to the UCL in his right elbow that shut him down for the remainder of the season.

With the season about ready to get started, Cook feels healthy and is much more prepared than he was last offseason.

“I feel good and I am healthy,” Cook said.  “I feel prepared after having done it last year and knowing what is in store for me.  Last offseason I was dealing with a wrist surgery and the recuperation from that, while this past offseason I was healthy the whole time so I had the full five months to lift and stuff. I’m also smarter.  Just like with a new job, the second year at it you get smarter and know what to expect. You are smart enough to get to bed on time, eat right, and take care of your body.”

Cook’s recovery from wrist surgery may have affected his performance early on last season, but he is not using that as an excuse.

“Obviously they were not the best numbers I have ever had, no, actually they were pretty much the worst I have ever had,” Cook quipped.  “But I learned a lot and I was lucky to be surrounded by a good coaching staff and manager, so I was very happy with my learning curve as the knowledge I took from last year was invaluable. I am really going to focus on that and use that this year to really do some damage.”

At 6’6” 200 pounds, Cook is a tall and lanky pitcher that gets good leverage on hitters because of his height. He features an 88-92 MPH four-seam fastball and complements it with a slider, splitter and changeup. He has toyed with a cutter of late and may bring it into his pitch mix this season.

“It works for me and works out of my arm slot really well with the way I come off the ball,” Cook said.  “I started toying with it last year. Steven Wright was on our team and he was really into helping me picking it up, understanding what to do with it, and how to use it. In the offseason with that amount of time off from baseball and to focus on something new I was able to really start picking it up. I started using it playing catch and then I brought it into bullpens and so far it has been good.”

With minor league spring training ending this weekend players will head out to their full season destinations on Sunday. Cook will be one of those departing for a full season team, although where he goes is not known for certain.

“That is above my pay grade as I just do what they tell me to do,” Cook laughed.

Cook will probably open the season at Low-A Lake County, but no matter where he goes he has his sights set on ending the season at Double-A Akron. If he can reach that level and improve this season, it will have been a successful year for him.

“I would like to see Akron at some point this year,” Cook said.  “I think that is an attainable goal for me as it is both a reach and not ridiculous, so I think if I can do that I will be happy with my year. If I have a full year and I learn something and get better, I am going to be happy with myself.”

Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIPI. Also, his new book the 2012 Cleveland Indians Prospect Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

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