Oakland Athletics pitcher Ryan Cook (48) pitches against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, April 14,
Oakland Athletics pitcher Ryan Cook (48) pitches against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, April 14, 2013. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)

PHOENIX — Reliever Ryan Cook is more confident than ever that he'll be ready to pitch out of the bullpen for the A's come opening day after throwing off a mound for the first time this spring Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Cook threw just 20 pitches, all fastballs, from a mound adjacent to the back field at Muni, and was all smiles and pranks when he walked off the field.

``I'd hoped I feel better,'' Cook said, quick to follow that up with a ``just joking.'' ``Actually, I'm feeling really good. I'd say I'm pleasantly surprised, except that I'm not surprised. I'm really optimistic.

``It's not that I doubted before. But I'm more confident than ever.''

Cook first felt the stiffness in his right shoulder during a late January throwing session. He knew coming into spring training that he wouldn't be ready right away, but he didn't think it would be a week into March before he'd get on a mound.

He will still need another session or two off the mound, the first of which is likely Saturday or Sunday. Then he'll throw a live bullpen session facing hitters before eventually getting into a game.

The question now is whether or not he'll be able to throw back-to-back days before the March 31 opener in Oakland against the Cleveland Indians. Or if that's even necessary.

``It's not really an issue,'' he said of working on consecutive days, ``especially with the strength of our bullpen.''


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A's are loaded with right-handed short relievers behind closer Jim Johnson, including Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero.