Pondering a few random spring training questions and topics

Next week, Orioles pitchers and catchers will report to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., for spring training. Late next month, a new regular season will begin. It’s coming fast.

Today we ponder some random questions and topics that will be getting scrutiny in spring training.

Will Alex Cobb be healthy?: The answer seems to be most definitely yes. Now the Orioles need to keep it that way and see if they can get Cobb pitching as he did in the second half of the 2018 season.

Cobb-Gray@TB-sidebar.jpgUnable to pitch on opening day last year due to a strained groin muscle, Cobb lasted just three starts during April before again landing on the injured list with a lumbar strain. A hip procedure in June officially put an end to his second season with Baltimore and it ended with a 10.95 ERA. Cobb underwent hip and knee surgeries last summer. At least there was nothing wrong with his right arm.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde saw Cobb pitch at a mini-camp in January in Sarasota. He feels he’s looking good heading into camp.

“He looked great, he felt great, so that’s huge news for us,” Hyde said last week on the “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.

In 11 starts after the 2018 All-Star break, Cobb went 3-3 with a 2.56 ERA, .232 batting average against and 1.156 WHIP. His ERA was fifth in the American League among pitchers who made at least 10 starts after the break. Yeah, the Orioles could sure use that.

Will there be any Adley mania?: No, I don’t expect that. But as the first player taken in the first round of June’s draft, catcher Adley Rutschman’s every move might draw some attention. He will likely get into a few early spring training games and that will be a curiosity as well.

The real important stuff won’t start until later when he begins his first full professional season. It seems that will likely start for him at Single-A Frederick or perhaps back at Single-A Delmarva, where he ended 2019. A move to Double-A seems quite possible as well.

He almost certainly will not play for the Orioles this year or even get a September call-up. So if you want to see him in an O’s uniform at all this year, you will probably have to check him out in a few weeks in Florida.

Speaking of catchers: Will Chance Sisco get his bat going at the big league level? We know he can hit on the farm; in May, he was crushing International League pitching. In that month at Triple-A Norfolk, Sisco hit .348/.443/.708 with nine homers, 27 RBIs and an OPS of 1.151.

That earned him another call to Baltimore. And he got off to a hot start with the orange and black. Through his first 16 games, he was batting .265 with five doubles, five homers, 16 RBIs and an OPS of 1.053. But he drove in just four runs in his last 43 games, hit just .168 after the All-Star break and just .210 for the year in 198 at-bats.

With questions about his defense, he’s going to need to get his bat going this year. There is enough of a track record on the farm and those glimpses of success with the Orioles that he will likely earn the chance to try again.

These are just a few questions/topics facing the team with camp about to start. Feel free to throw out some of your own and we’ll address some more random topics later this week.

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