Pirates interested in free agent right-hander Aaron Cook


We learned earlier this month that Aaron Cook planned to talk to the Padres and Reds, but Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have also expressed interest in the free agent right-hander.

Talks are said to be in the early stages and Brink hears that the Bucs are just one of about a “half dozen” teams in the mix. The Rockies declined Cook’s $11 million option late last month.

Cook has experienced some bad luck with injury over the past two seasons, including a broken leg in 2010 and shoulder tendinitis and a broken ring finger in 2011. The 32-year-old right-hander has a brutal 5.49 ERA during the same time period, so he’ll likely have to accept a one-year deal with a low guarantee.

The Pirates tentatively have Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton, James McDonald and Brad Lincoln lined up for their 2012 rotation, though Morton’s recent hip surgery could put him at risk for missing the early part of the season.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.