DUNEDIN, Fla. - Alex Cobb hasn’t been slowed in camp by the hip and knee surgeries he underwent in June, but a blister on his pitching hand caused manager Brandon Hyde to remove him from Thursday’s starting assignment against the Twins in Fort Myers.
Hyde said it’s a “small, little” blister and Cobb would pitch with it in the regular season. Cobb will be used in a simulated game on the back fields in Sarasota, under a controlled environment, while Bruce Zimmermann makes the start against the Twins.
The Orioles are understandably cautious with Cobb, who has a history of blister issues on his right index and middle fingers. They cost him multiple starts in 2018 in his first season with the Orioles after signing a four-year, $57 million contract.
Hyde said the club isn’t concerned, but wants to monitor his throwing in Sarasota “in case something flares up with it.”
The blister developed this morning for Cobb, who’s lined up to be the No. 2 starter despite appearing in only one Grapefruit League game and working one scoreless inning against the Phillies on Feb. 24.
Cobb will get the same amount of work in the simulated game as he would have in Fort Myers if the blister doesn’t worsen.
“It’s just so we don’t drive to Fort Myers and something happens in the bullpen before the game or in the first inning, and now we’re scrambling for innings down there,” Hyde said. “We can just do this. We’re going to start Zimmermann and let (Cobb) do his work on the back fields.”
Whether Hyde needs to see a starter log a certain amount of innings against a live opponent to feel comfortable breaking camp with him is dependent on the pitcher. Cases may vary.
“Depends on who it is, depends on the experience,” Hyde said.
“Someone like Cobb, (Wade) LeBlanc, (Tommy) Milone, guys with some service time and have pitched in a lot of major league games and have had a lot of spring trainings, they have a pretty good feel and sense for being built up and what it takes for them to get ready. We would like to see them pitch in games as much as possible, but we can get quality work in the back fields, also.”
Milone has been held to one outing due to tightness in his left trapezius/neck area. LeBlanc has pitched twice.
John Means worked five innings and threw 75 pitches this morning in his simulated game.
“He threw the ball good,” Hyde said.
Chandler Shepherd worked four innings.
“Quality work and stretched those guys out a little bit,” Hyde said.
Catcher Chance Sisco remains out of the lineup after being hit on the throwing hand by a foul ball. He batted this morning in the simulated games.
Hyde didn’t have an update on outfielder Trey Mancini, saying only that they’ve exchanged text messages.
The Orioles optioned left-hander Keegan Akin to Triple-A Norfolk following last night’s game. Akin posted a 7.45 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 9 2/3 innings.
Hyde wants Akin to continue “sharpening his stuff.”
“I think the mix is there,” Hyde said. “I really like the stuff that he has. Now it’s having some success getting Triple-A hitters out, really being able to command three pitches. Like I said last night, he shows flashes ... he was showing 93-94 (mph), flashed a good changeup, flashes some good breaking balls. Now it’s just being a little bit more consistent with it, and he’s close. So it’s exciting for me. He had a really good camp and I’m hopefully see him soon.”