SARASOTA, Fla.—Four years ago, Alex Cobb had been named the Opening Day starter for the Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately for Cobb, he developed tendinitis in his right forearm and needed Tommy John surgery.
In the same week he became a father for the first time, Cobb was named the Opening Day starter for the Orioles.
Cobb wasn’t surprised that he got the start. He’d been reading the pitchers’ schedules and calculating whose turn came up on March 28.
“I don’t think I did anything that separated myself too much on the field last year,” Cobb said. “I [got off] to a slow start. I had a lot better second half. The organization knows that that’s more the pitcher that I am than what happened the first half.”
Cobb went 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA in 2018, the first year of a four-year, $57-million contract.
“There’s been a lot of negativity surrounding us, well-deserved, probably from last year,” Cobb said. “Hopefully, I can set the tone, even if it’s only for the day, to have some positives and go out and compete, show everybody…no matter what happens this year, you’re going to see us go out and compete.”
At 31, and in his eighth year in the major leagues, Cobb gets more satisfaction from the Opening Day assignment than he would have earlier in his career.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in totally, yet,” Cobb said. “It probably won’t until I’m walking out and the festivities are going on.”
Last Friday, Cobb’s wife, Kelly, gave birth to a daughter, Chloe.
“It’s been the best week of my life,” Cobb said. “Nothing to do with baseball. To see my little girl for the first time, and just be able to hold her for the first time, I’d be lying to you if baseball’s been on my mind lately. I’ll be able to separate the two and go out and take care of my business, but right now I’m enjoying every single second with her.”
Nearly a year ago, Cobb decided to join the Orioles.
“I just think about how wild a career I’ve had,” Cobb said. “You can’t predict anything in this game. You never know what challenge or what highs and lows this game’s going to bring you on a day-to-day basis. I think, looking back through last year, the difficulties of the offseason, the difficulties of the first half of the season, I think it’s taught me…when those good times do come to embrace them, enjoy them because the lows are very difficult to get through.
“If you’re not enjoying the positive moments in your career, you’re really not experiencing the full effect of what your career is. I think early on in my career, I just kind of expected the good times and dwelled on the bad times, but now I’m going to enjoy a lot more of the good times.”