Alex Cobb was supposed to start against the Minnesota Twins on March 12, the day baseball came to an end. Because he was recovering from a blister, it was decided that instead of traveling to Fort Myers that night with the team, he’d throw a simulated game on a back field at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
A few hours after that game, Major League Baseball announced that spring training was being halted because of Covid-19. Cobb returned to his Arizona home and spoke on Friday about what he’s been doing to keep busy.
This interview has been edited for brevity.
Question: When you went to pitch that simulated game, did you have any inkling that spring training would be ending?
Cobb: “Doesn’t it feel like it’s a whole season ago already? It feels like a long time ago, so it’s hard to remember exactly the timeline of everything that took place.
“The night before, the President came on and talked about what was going on, and the NBA suspended their season. I remember calling my dad that night and thinking, ‘There’s no way MLB is going to continue their season now that the NBA has done what they’ve done. I think we’re in for something bigger than we all expected.’
“When we got to the field the next day, there were some whispers that MLB was planning on suspending spring training. It wasn’t until after I got done pitching that that took place.
“I wouldn’t say it was on my mind when I was pitching. I definitely knew that day was different. There were things going on, but while I was on the field, I was preparing like I had a few more starts until the season.”
Q: Do you think there’s going to be a season?
A: “I do. There’s a lot of effort being put into that. Some things still need to happen for that to take place, but it does seem like all that’s a possibility in the future. How long? I don’t know, but it has that feel to me, and I don’t know any of the specifics, what’s really going on behind the scenes, but it has the feel to me that it’s starting to pick up traction in that direction.
“I’m just going off hearsay I’m hearing, little whispers that come out, the proposals that are coming. They all seem very optimistic. You hear GMs talking to certain players or agents talking to GMs. They seem to be pretty optimistic that we’re going to get a decent sized schedule in.
“At the end of the day, I don’t know if that’s just wishful thinking or not, but my gut instinct tells me we’re going to play.”
Q: What have you been doing?
A: “I have prepared since I got back like it’s a completely normal offseason. I’ve been very fortunate to have access to a gym and a bullpen with a catcher. I’ve been able to keep my throwing program. Obviously, I’ve scaled everything way back from where I was. I’ve kept myself in the mode to say, mid-to-late January, getting ready to go to spring training.
“It really hasn’t been too different for me in the training aspect other than I just go work out and come back home.”
Q: Ballplayers are creatures of habit, and you’re always on the clock. With a return date unsure, do you have to fool yourself a little?
A: “You do, but you also have to use some common sense. I feel when this whole thing will happen, MLB will give a heads-up that these parameters are in place. You have X amount of days to get your life together. Then we’re going to have a little bit of a startup time for spring training. I’ve been hearing anywhere from 15 days to three weeks.
“You know you have that little cushion to ramp it up, and you also know during the season, managers and GMs are going to be smart. Everybody’s going to realize the situation that we’re in and make the conscious decisions to not go out there and let us get hurt.”
Q: Have you been talking to pitching coach Doug Brocail about your throwing program?
A: “We’ve been updating him where we are. There’s not too much guidance that anybody can really give you other than just try to stay in this idle position that we’re in until we get a better word. We update him with our throwing program, and I’m sure if he saw something that he disagreed with, he’d dial us up and let us go.
“[Manager Brandon Hyde, Brocail], everybody has stayed in contact. Our athletic [training] department has done a really good job that we’re staying healthy and not doing anything stupid, maintaining our shoulder programs.
“Nobody knows what the blueprint should be for this, but everybody is addressing it really well and doing the best they know how to keep everybody in a good framework to get the season going.”
Q: You’ve had additional time with your 1-year-old daughter, and your wife is having another child this summer. Is there anything that you’re doing that you wouldn’t be doing normally?
A: “There’s a lot of good, hopefully, coming out of this whole situation where families are able to spend more time together, talk to each other more even if they’re not in the same location.
“I’ve had more Zoom-type game nights with extended family, with my wife’s family than we ever did. Those things are really cool.
“It just has a real strong feeling like this is the offseason for me in terms of going to work out in terms of the rest of the day is spent with my daughter and my wife. By 7 o’clock, we’re just so exhausted. We’re usually in bed by 9, 9:30. Life doesn’t feel too weird ever than if we wanted to go out to eat one night or go to the movies, you just can’t do that. When you have a 1-year-old, you don’t have too much time to do that anyway.”