Alex Cobb has one more day to let the middle finger on his pitching hand heal before he starts Tuesday night’s series opener against the Athletics at Camden Yards.
If the weather allows it, of course.
Cobb had a “touch and feel” session Saturday and completed a bullpen session yesterday without any concerns about the finger or the status of his start, which has been pushed back.
“It was OK,” he said. “It was good enough to look forward to my next outing on Tuesday. But probably a good decision not to pitch (Sunday). I mean, it was still a little tender enough where it needs a day or two.”
The current issue isn’t related to the blister that shortened Cobb’s outing in Minnesota two months ago. That one developed on his right index finger.
“We’re calling it a blister but it’s more like a cut, a blood blister that turned into a cut and it started on my finger and gradually moved down,” Cobb said, perhaps relieved to be talking about something other than his late signing and split-changeup.
“After the last outing, we really kind of cut into it to get the flaking and the cut to try to even out a little bit so it wouldn’t keep doing it, and we got a lot of raw skin from it, so it needed to heal.”
Cobb says the finger has bothered him for the last four or five starts.
“It’s been kind of lingering,” he said.
Meanwhile, he has quality starts in seven of his last eight outings and his 4.97 ERA is the lowest of the season.
Head athletic trainer Brian Ebel should win some sort of award for the way he’s treated both blisters, or whatever we’re calling the newer one. He works his magic between and during the outings and Cobb’s continued to take the ball when handed to him.
“I know I’m technically missing my start (yesterday), but really, my day would be Tuesday anyway if you have a five-man rotation, so I don’t view it as missing a start. Just pushing it back a little bit,” Cobb said.
“The ability to have what I have and not miss a start is all the credit to him. He’s been able to manage it. After each out I feel like I’m getting a manicure from him. He does a great job of just smoothing it out and getting it healed in time to make the next start.”
Cobb’s 15 losses no longer lead the majors. The White Sox’s James Shields stands alone with 16. And it’s interesting that Cobb has a 1.1 WAR, proving again that pitchers shouldn’t be judged only by their won-loss records.
* Cobb and Andrew Cashner are taking on more of a leadership role as the starters around them become younger. Left-hander Josh Rogers, who made his third major league appearance yesterday, has praised the veterans for assisting him through their words and actions.
(They can only do so much. Rogers lasted 1 1/3 innings yesterday and allowed six runs.)
Manager Buck Showalter notes the importance of having that influence, but he also understands that the duo is responsible for more than just counseling the rookies.
“On the surface, of course, but they’ll tell you they’ve got their own challenges, too,” Showalter said. “I stay in constant communication with those guys because there’s also the adversity, the way they’re handling things, if it’s a good example, make sure it’s a good cop and not a bad cop. And they both are.
“I talk to those guys a lot every day about different things. It’s important to have the right peers around them, but sometimes that can go in the other direction if you don’t.”
I’ve referenced the balancing acts that are taking place around us and here’s another one: encouraging the younger players to enjoy the major league experience to its fullest, but also understand everything that’s at stake and don’t waste the opportunity. Have fun, but be serious.
“Some of them are just, ‘Wow, I’m in the big leagues,’ and some of them didn’t do particularly well,” Showalter said. “I had them in here a couple days ago talking about what this month is for them, what it’s about. But I’m not going to take it away. I’m 23, 24, I’m in the big leagues, a lifelong dream.
“Yeah, they should be out there during early BP running around. I mean, what do you want them to do, sitting up here like a wallflower? Yeah, I want them to enjoy that. I don’t want to take that joy away from them. But there are some things they need to get out of this, because this, too, shall pass.”
* Rogers retired only four batters yesterday, unable to keep the ball down and allowing six runs. He won’t blow his fastball past hitters and needs to be precise and have all three pitches in his arsenal.
“I’ve had outings like this all throughout my career,” he said. “It just happens.”
Showalter talks about the game speeding up, especially for younger players, and how they need to slow it down to survive in the majors.
“I think it speeds up anywhere, especially when things are going bad,” Rogers said. “Just keep attacking the zone and not getting picky with what you’re trying to do. Just trying to make quality pitches.
“Couldn’t get it going (yesterday) you look up and it’s 5-0 as I’m walking to the dugout. You go out for the second inning, you’re try to just keep it going and try to get something going positive and I just couldn’t today.”
The rotation has an open spot with Rogers being shut down. Luis Ortiz, who worked two-thirds of an inning Friday night in his major league debut, could make his first start.
* Corban Joseph received two at-bats over the weekend after having his contract purchased and he struck out twice. He has no idea if he’ll receive any starts down the stretch or how many chances he’ll get at the plate, but he’s happy to be on the wild ride.
Joseph made it back to the majors earlier this summer, finally able to play with older brother Caleb, but was designated for assignment and outrighted back to Double-A Bowie.
Rather than let the demotion sink him, Joseph made the Eastern League All-Star Team while batting .312/.381/.497 with 30 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs and 68 RBIs in 122 games..
“This game is a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “For me, personally, it’s given me a better aspect of how to really appreciate the time you’re up here and enjoy it for everything it is.”
* Showalter didn’t know whether to expect further expansion of the active roster.
“I don’t have any way to handicap that,” Showalter said. “I’d ask Dan (Duquette) that. He’s got more of a grip on the timing, where the fall league comes into play.
“If you’ve got a guy you’re thinking you might call up, but he’s going to the fall league, you might leave him alone. So, there’s some things that change every day.”
* Caleb Joseph produced his first multi-hit game yesterday since July 28 against the Rays and his first extra-base hit since Aug. 20 in Toronto. His sacrifice fly accounted for his first RBI since Aug. 21.
Joseph really came up big after yesterday’s game, calmly but firmly breaking down what’s wrong with the club and how he finds it unacceptable. He misses the crisp, clean play of past teams under Showalter.
Some people on Twitter questioned why the media bothered to approach Joseph. Well, he’s the third-longest-tenured player on the team, he speaks his mind, he had three hits and he caught a rookie pitcher who retired only four batters.
Yeah, seemed like the logical choice.
* The Orioles have allowed 115 runs in the first inning, most in the majors.
They’re on pace to surrender 130, which would be the second-highest total in club history. The 1991 Orioles allowed 134.