SARASOTA, Fla. - Alex Cobb has met his new teammates and the media and fulfilled all of his interview obligations. He’s ready to focus on pitching again, whenever he’s able to debut for the Orioles after signing his four-year, $57 million contract.
Cobb is expected to stay back at extended spring training and report to a minor league affiliate to build up his innings. There’s no timetable set for his return to a major league rotation.
Here’s a sampling of Cobb from his first session with the press at the windy Ed Smith Stadium complex:
On his emotions today: “It’s all joy right now. I’m not thinking about the struggles that were going on in the offseason right now. This is all about celebrating the contract and a new chapter in my life with the Orioles. I couldn’t be happier getting to know the guys, getting to know the front office. Everybody’s so excited and just brings a lot of joy to us that we’re going to be here for a long time.”
On why the Orioles were a fit: “Early in the offseason, me and my wife were discussing what we really wanted out of this whole process. There’s a long list of things that go into it. I think the thing that we kept coming back to, is why we wanted to feel wanted. We wanted to feel that an organization really trusts us, has confidence in us. No one has done that more than Baltimore. They have shown a lot of confidence in what I can do and what I’ve done in the AL East. It means a lot to me.”
On the difficulty in waiting: “There was so much to keep my busy through the whole process. Honestly, from November probably 1st to the day I signed, I thought every day would maybe be the day that it happened. I would say there were some frustrating moments, but I definitely enjoyed my offseason. I had a great time with my family. Dealt with the difficulties that came with them as they came day to day. Overall, my mind wasn’t focused on that.”
On how the Orioles made him feel special: “They didn’t stop bothering me the whole offseason. They were very persistent and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that’s gone on. Everyone’s got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field and just kept repeating how well I fit in here.
“They used the AL East and the success I’ve had in it to their advantage. They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be.”
On how other pitchers aren’t comfortable at Camden Yards: “I’m one of those pitchers. I don’t have a very comfortable feeling when I think about that ballpark, but I believe that’s because of the lineup I have to face every time I go in there. It’s going to be very nice to be able to go there and know that I’m not going to face that lineup and I’m going to have that defense behind me, so I really can’t answer that question until I get a taste of that what’s going to be like.”
On his throwing: “I’ve tried to do as much as I could. I had a really good training facility back home in Arizona and they took care of me really well and we all adjusted to the difficulties of the offseason. We were able to get to about 75-80 pitches in a bullpen and that’s about as good as we could do with the circumstances and us not knowing (what would happen). But I feel like I got my arm pretty well-conditioned, but having said that, it’s a whole new ballgame with a batter in there and when you get some real adrenaline going. You deal with the soreness that comes with that. So, we’ll have to do a good job with the training staff here and the front office of mapping out a pretty good idea of what we need to do to get ready.”
On a timetable to join Orioles: “I don’t know right now. I’m going to be pushing it as quick as I can. That’s going to be up to them. They’ve invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we’re going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I’m going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline.”
On not throwing his changeup as much last year: “The consequence of the surgery, not physically but the amount of time I was away from pitching. My mechanics were off quite a bit. I got to a point in the season last year where I was getting good results with two pitches, and instead of trying to break it all down and work on that in-season, I decided to just go and try to win ballgames. I was getting good success from those two pitches and showing that third one every once in a while. I just made a conscious decision the first month and a half into the season to do it until I can’t do it anymore with those pitches and try to get outs and work on it in the offseason.
“I’ve been thrilled with everything I’ve worked on this offseason to get back to being that pitcher. It’s nice to have had this long of an offseason to work on all that and try to sharpen it.”
Here’s manager Buck Showalter:
On what Cobb adds: “Hopefully, some consistency. We all know Alex’s background. Gosh, we’ve seen him enough. It’s nice to have him on your side. Just that consistency and the feeling in the clubhouse every day you go out there you’ve got a chance to win. Not that we haven’t before, but he certainly is a very competitive guy that’s got an extended track record and it’s exciting to add him.”
On how he’s admired Cobb from afar: “Too long. It’s just so consistent. And also, home and away. If you look at that, he’s a guy who’s been able to have the same type of success and it’s not ballpark related or something. And once again, you get a guy who’s cut his teeth in the American League East, so you know the ballparks, all the adjusts that sometimes guys have to make is one less thing you’ve got to worry about.”
On whether Cobb was on his wish list: “Yes. I think we all did. It was somebody that we had targeted, from my perspective a hope thing. Once again, ownership stepped up for us and just from an evaluation, not putting anybody else down, but I had him right at the top. One, because we had firsthand knowledge. You get to see all the things that he brings through the length of the season. It seems like we played Tampa 100 times. You see him in the spring, you see him during the season 20 times almost. We felt comfortable that we’d seen him so much, knowing what you’re going to get.”
On getting Cobb ready to pitch: “He thought I was kidding. We’ve got a sim game going on right now. No, he’s been pitching. Obviously, it hasn’t been in games. Up to 60-70 pitches, somewhere in there. Roger (McDowell) and I are going to sit down with him now. It’s the first time. It’s been a pretty whirlwind few days for him and get our arms around it. We’ve already looked at some potential scenarios. I want to get some feedback from him first. We want it to be right, but we’ll move as quickly as we can.”
Here’s executive vice president Dan Duquette:
On what Cobb brings to the team: “Alex Cobb, as we know, is a really good competitor and he has an excellent track record, a proven track record against the American League East, which of course is the first order of business for the Orioles. He’s got the presence to your pitching staff where he competes night in and night out and is a proven veteran starter. He gives us a little more leadership, a little more presence and makes us all-around a more competitive team.
“We’re glad he decided to sign with the Orioles. Took a while to get here. Sometimes things take a while. Alex has kept himself in good shape. He’s going to do what he can to get ready to pitch for the Orioles as soon as he can.”
On giving Cobb four years despite club’s reluctance: “It’s a prudent policy. There’s some protection for the club in regards to the length of the term. I think it was a happy medium for the player and the club. Hopefully, it’ll be a good long-term relationship. Alex was at the stage of his career where he wanted to find a long-term deal and he ended up finding a home with the Orioles.”
On deferred money: “That’s a personal choice. It’s good for everybody, for the organization and the player. The player has long-term security and it’s good for the organization as it allows you to maximize your team each and every year.”
On filling needs in offseason: “Going into the offseason, we had a couple holes that we wanted to address, and notably we wanted to address the starting pitching, so we’ve done that. We’ve signed (Andrew) Cashner, we’ve re-signed (Chris) Tillman and now we’ve signed Alex Cobb, so we have the starting pitchers that we were looking for. We also were looking for additional pitching depth. We were able to identify a couple players in the Rule 5 draft in (Nestor) Cortes and (Pedro) Araujo. They look good, they look like they might be helpful for the team.
“We also were looking to build our bench and we have signed some veteran players here that it looks like could help fill those holes in terms of the bench. (Danny) Valencia, Colby Rasmus, a left-handed hitter and we were also trying to sign a left-handed hitter. Some of the other questions we had coming into the season I think have been identified by the emergence of some young players on our team and the depth and talent in the organization.
“There’s a number of talent issues that have been addressed by people who were in the organization and then we went outside and addressed them. But adding the starting pitching is key, right, to the stability of the club. If we had decent starting pitching, the rest of the elements of the team are pretty good.”
On the plan for Cobb: “He’s going to have to do his throwing down here and then we’ll probably evaluate that a week from now. Our season opens up next Thursday, the minor league season doesn’t open up until the following Tuesday, so we’ll have to see where he is a week from now. But he looks like he’s in good shape, raring to go.
“He’s going to have to go out and pitch once the minor league season starts.”