What’s happening? – Manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Roger McDowell will meet today with the newly signed Alex Cobb to design a schedule.
Cobb, who threw on the side shortly after his four-year, $57 million deal was announced Wednesday, will accept a temporary option to the minor leagues so that he can build up arm strength.
“I’m going to be pushing it as quick as I can,” Cobb said. “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.”
Cobb, 30, has some fans in the Orioles clubhouse. One is third baseman Tim Beckham, who was a teammate of Cobb’s with the Tampa Bay Rays.
“He’s had good success over here in the American League East,” Beckham said. “It’s not an easy division to pitch in. After he’s been waiting for so long, I’m sure he’s ready to get after it. … We’re a lot more confident with him in the rotation.”
Center fielder Adam Jones, who has never been shy about encouraging the Orioles to add free agents, supported the move, too.
“We’ve long searched for someone of his caliber,” Jones said.
“Obviously, we’ve added [Andrew] Cashner and when you’ve added Cobb, that’s two guys who have been around and thrown a lot of important innings,” Jones said. “Cobb, most importantly, has thrown every inning of his career in the AL East, for an AL East team, I should say, so he knows this division. He knows these ballparks. He knows the lineups.”
What’s happened? – Right-hander Miguel Castro had a rough start against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night. He allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits in three innings. Castro walked three and struck out two.
Lefty Nestor Cortes Jr., allowed a three-run home run to Aaron Judge in the eighth inning, his second of the game. Before that, Cortes pitched three scoreless innings. Overall, he allowed four hits, walked two, struck out three and hit a batter.
Castro and Cortes were jockeying for the fifth starter’s spot that will ultimately go to Cobb.
“I feel good because I see it as an opportunity for the team to continue to compete, to be in the hunt,” Castro said through a translator about Cobb’s addition. “The team wants to compete and wants to win. I feel good for my team.”
Showalter thinks Castro has room to grow — and needs to pitch better against left-handers.
“He’s going to be in our bullpen or probably starting at Norfolk, one of the two, when Cobb gets ready,” Showalter said of Castro.
** Top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey was sent to Double-A Bowie shortly after Cobb’s signing was announced. Harvey was supposed to start Wednesday against the Yankees, but Showalter needed more looks at Castro and Cortes.
Harvey will begin the season with the Baysox.
“He was impressive this spring,” Showalter said. “Three-pitch mix. I think everybody loves his makeup.”
** Rule 5 draft choice Jose Mesa was designated for assignment Wednesday to make room for Cobb on the 40-man roster. Showalter thinks Mesa, 24, has lots of potential, but he wasn’t ready for the major leagues. If he passes through waivers unclaimed the Orioles will have to offer him back to the New York Yankees.
“I can see why he was taken, and would love to have him in the system,” Showalter said. “The major league club is not here to develop minor league prospects. He’s a good young prospect, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pitching in the big leagues. They evaluated him well.”
What’s up with? – Mike Wright. For the moment, Wright remains in nominal competition for the fifth starter’s job. The Orioles will need a fifth starter early in the season, and it’s conceivable Wright could be in the rotation for a start or two until Cobb is ready.
Wright will start today against Boston. In his last outing, he allowed four runs on nine hits against Toronto on March 17. .
What’s what? – Cobb’s arrival means that the Orioles’ temptation to rush Harvey to the big leagues will be lessened.
“We all knew in our heart, we knew it was best of him to pitch (in the minors) above the Single-A level,” Showalter said.
Harvey has often been compared to Dylan Bundy, but as Showalter pointed out, in 2016 when Bundy began the season with the Orioles, he had no options remaining and had pitched above Single-A.
What’s the word? – “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.” – Right-hander Alex Cobb on what about the Orioles attracted him.
What’s the number? – 20. Once Cobb is in the minor leagues for 20 consecutive days, he wont be able to accrue additional service time. So that won’t happen. Expect him up within that timeframe.
What’s the record? – 14-11-2. The Orioles face the Boston Red Sox in Sarasota at 1:05 p.m.