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Rockies Opening Day Starter Aaron Cook Almost Died

Apr 2, 2007 – 8:30 AM
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Larry Brown

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When I first tell you that the Rockies Opening Day starter today is Aaron Cook, you might use that as fuel to poke fun at the Colorado franchise. After all, who is Aaron Cook? Moreover, how is a guy who went 9-15 last year good enough to start on Opening Day? Well once you hear about what Cook went through two and a half years ago, you will reserve all jokes and revel in amazement over what he has overcome.
On Aug. 7, 2004, Cook was forced to leave a game at Coors Field because of dizziness and shortness of breath. A few hours later, tests revealed pulmonary embolisms - blood clots - in his lungs.
As noted in Player Profiles (which unfortunately is subscription based), the surgery was gruesome:
Aaron had the top rib on his right side removed to relieve compression on his subclavian vein in an eight-hour procedure performed by Dr. Robert Thompson at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

What is now a surgical souvenir was a lethal piece of bone. The rib was pressing against Cook's collarbone, restricting the flow of blood through a vein in his right shoulder. The blood clots that traveled to Cook's lungs and ended his season during an Aug. 7 start - and very nearly his life - originated in that shoulder.
Here's the kicker:
In the first few days after surgery, Cook said, he was "crying in pain." Fluid in his lungs contributed to chest spasms and made breathing difficult. Once he gets back on the field, Cook said, he will realize how much he had to endure in order to return. "I don't think I can wish this surgery on my worst enemy," Cook said. "That's how much pain I was in."
From "crying in pain" to becoming the Opening Day starter in two and a half years? Well done Aaron, I am truly in awe. (And I'll try to remember this story when I'm contemplating bashing you after a bad start)
Filed under: Sports