TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Sitting in the silent Colorado clubhouse while the Boston Red Sox celebrated their World Series sweep at Coors Field last October isn't a pleasant memory for any of the Rockies.
Yet, right-hander Aaron Cook looks back at that night with some mixed emotions, at least.
He lost Game 4 despite allowing three runs over six stellar innings in a performance that showed he was healthy again after missing nearly three months with a strained side muscle.
He said it was important for him not to spend a long, cold winter wondering about a comeback.
``I think it would have been tough,'' Cook said. ``It definitely would have been hard to know I thought I was healthy and not had a chance to pitch. Fortunately, I did get healthy. They did give me the ball and I was able to throw.''
It was his first appearance in more than 11 weeks, marking the longest layoff before starting a World Series game in the last half-century. Ultimately, however, he couldn't keep the Rockies from a suffering a 4-3 defeat that ended their magical season and had the Sox celebrating on their home field.
Cook wanted to return sooner but understood the Rockies' reluctance. The team was in the middle of a 21-1 run to reach their first World Series, a streak fueled by rookies Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales.
``I felt I was ready to go for a couple of weeks but the team was on a great run right there and they kind of wanted to leave things how they were,'' Cook said. ``I did get a chance to pitch in the World Series and it was a great experience and I felt like I was totally healthy and I'm totally healthy coming into this year.''
Healthy - and wealthy.
The Rockies' biggest offseason move consisted of signing Cook for $34 million over four years.
``It means a lot,'' Cook said. ``The organization really stepped up. They wanted to make this happen. We were able to come up with a great deal.''
Cook has never had arm trouble in his career but he's had serious health problems.
He left the mound at Coors Field in 2004 due to dizziness and a month later had surgery to remove a rib that was pressing against a vein and causing life-threatening blood clots. His inspiring comeback was capped last year when he was named the opening-day starter, then went 8-7 with a 4.12 ERA before going on the DL on Aug. 10.
The Rockies are counting on Cook anchoring their rotation this year.
``We're looking for a full season,'' manager Clint Hurdle said Monday. ``We're looking for not a fragmented season but an opportunity to get to 200 innings or somewhere around that mark.''
Although Hurdle won't address the issue this early, Cook said he thinks left-hander Jeff Francis, who won 17 games a year ago, will get the opening-day start this time.
Not that it matters to him, Cook said. He just wants to be a part of another Rockies' run. He even arrived two days early and found he wasn't the first one in the clubhouse, either.
``There's a lot more energy around here,'' Cook said. ``A lot of guys are a lot more excited this year considering where we ended up last year. Of course, we're kind disappointed the way the World Series turned out but everything else that led up to it gave us a lot to be happy about and gives us a lot to look forward to.''
Notes: Three Rockies are limited: Morales, who had four wisdom teeth extracted recently; RHP Juan Morillo, who had a sore elbow last season; and RHP Zach McClellan, coming off shoulder and knee injuries. ... Hurdle isn't spending his Arizona afternoons on the links anymore. With his kids now 5 and 3, ``golf's kind of been eliminated from my itinerary,'' he said. ``In fact, I'm at a point in time in my life where I've got to drink a couple of Red Bulls before I go home. I've got pool time ahead of me, I've got sprint work to do, I could be catching butterflies, chasing dogs, there's no telling. I've got double-headers every day.''

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