ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Alex Cobb was supposed to make a start against the Athletics at Camden Yards before back spasms forced him onto the injured list for the second time this year. He was eligible to return on Tuesday for the series against the Rays that concludes tonight at Tropicana Field, but manager Brandon Hyde wanted to give him a little more recovery time.
Cobb will be on the mound Friday night against the Twins in Baltimore. It’s going to happen if the weather allows it. No more interruptions. No more false starts.
Throwing live batting practice on Tuesday and the subsequent recovery enabled Cobb to convince Hyde and pitching coach Doug Brocail that he could leave the injured list and hop back into the rotation.
“I feel good,” he said. “It’s been a long layoff, so there’s some rust on there, but physically definitely capable of going out there. And just excited to go get back out.
“I feel like I wasn’t expecting this long of a layoff and you look up and you see how many games have gone past on the calendar, it’s a little surprising. But the training staff and everybody’s done a great job of dealing with what we’ve had and getting me back to where I am right now to be able to go out and compete.”
Cobb has made only one start, going 5 2/3 innings on April 4 against the Yankees and allowing two runs in an 8-4 loss. The Orioles placed him on the IL with a lumbar strain.
“I think I’ll continue to feel something for a little while, but you’ve just got to get to a point where you can go out there and push through it type of thing,” he said.
“I wasn’t capable of pushing through the pain that I had earlier. Now, there’s probably going to be something there for a little while. It’s definitely manageable. And throughout the course of the season you’re dealing with something at some point in the year. This is just what’s on tap for right now. I feel totally capable of dealing with this.”
Hyde likely has a pitch count in mind for Cobb, though he might not share it.
“Probably not going to be able to go nine innings,” Cobb said, smiling. “I don’t really like to know what I’m built up to. I let the training staff and Hyder deal with that and just hand him the ball when he’s ready to take it from me and ask questions later probably. But I definitely feel capable of going out there and competing.”
Cobb began the year on the IL with a groin injury, pushing back his debut for a second consecutive season and robbing him of the opening day start. He’s had to remain patient during the latest stoppage.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this long of a layoff, so I’ve been preparing,” he said. “I prepared for Oakland mentally to go out there and pitch and realized it was going to be a little more of a layoff, and then prepared to possibly pitch this series in Tampa, and now getting ready for Minnesota, I’m excited just to go out and compete because it has been too long. Just to feel that competitiveness again and contribute to the team.
“It’s been tough. It stinks being the guy who’s hurt in the locker room just taking up space and not contributing on the field when everybody’s going through it every day. So glad to be able to go out there and be able to help my teammates.”
The Orioles will announce Cobb’s activation on Friday and make a corresponding roster move. Left-hander John Means is expected to pitch out of the bullpen with Cobb taking his spot in the rotation.