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'Dizzy' Cobb muscles through scoreless frame 

February 24, 2020

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Alex Cobb felt sick, and it wasn’t just nerves from being on the mound in a game situation for the first time in 11 months. The right-hander was really sick. Cobb was experiencing cold symptoms and had to cut his first spring outing short, but he managed

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Alex Cobb felt sick, and it wasn’t just nerves from being on the mound in a game situation for the first time in 11 months. The right-hander was really sick.

Cobb was experiencing cold symptoms and had to cut his first spring outing short, but he managed to get through a scoreless inning on 18 pitches (10 strikes) in the Orioles' 8-7 loss to the Phillies on Monday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

If there was any good news about Cobb being sick, it was that he wasn't thinking about the right hip injury that caused him to miss most of the 2019 season.

“I just didn’t feel very good today,” Cobb said. “I felt dehydrated and dizzy and stuff, so I felt like it was stupid to keep pitching and risk anything.”

Despite the illness, Cobb said he didn’t have any plans to push back his next start.

“I put a lot of work into getting ready for this game,” Cobb said. “A lot of times I start off Spring Training with [one] inning.”

Cobb is entering into the third season of a four-year, $57 million contract. Upon signing the deal, the O's expected the righty to be a consistent veteran presence in their rotation, but he struggled in 2018, going 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA in 28 starts.

Cobb only pitched 12 1/3 innings in three starts in 2019 before landing on the injured list with a back ailment that was believed to be caused by the hip injury that would eventually sideline him for the rest of the season.

Manager Brandon Hyde is optimistic that a healthy Cobb can still be an effective starting pitcher.

“We’d love to have him healthy, love to have him in the rotation,” Hyde said. “He’s in Year 3. He’s one of our only established starting pitchers that’s had a really nice career up to this point. We’re going to do everything we can, and hopefully he breaks [camp] with us when the season starts.”

There was plenty of optimism to build on in Monday’s start. Cobb gave up just one hit, and that was a tricky deep fly ball that got caught in the wind and snuck past left fielder Ryan Mountcastle. Cobb hit 90 mph on a few of his four-seam fastballs and was able to throw a good changeup, even though he was fighting his location.

“I’ve heard a couple pitchers talk about how they work on their stuff [instead of] location early on [in spring], and that’s a good way to think about it,” Cobb said. “I was actually happy with the way my pitches were working. I didn’t have the location as dialed in as I like, but I was happy with throwing the changeup behind in the count and working on my four-seam fastball in the zone. I got some popups with that, so I was happy.”

Hyde said it was simply important for Cobb to get his first start behind him.

“You could tell he wasn’t 100 percent, but that’s OK,” Hyde said. “He wanted to get out there. He thought he felt OK to pitch. I think in a normal situation he probably would’ve stayed out there. But we just pulled him out because he wasn’t feeling 100 percent. He got his inning in and his warmups.”

Cobb said his illness didn’t keep him from gathering some information, and he's glad it gave him a foundation to build on.

“There’s nothing I can sit there and articulate to you other than just getting competition back and getting up to form with game speed,” Cobb said. “Seeing another jersey in the box, you know there’s an added concentration that kind of comes into play when you’re able to throw a fastball [inside] and you’re not worried about hitting the guy because you don’t want to hurt your teammate. There’s things, game experiences, that you can’t emulate anywhere else but on the field."

Cobb said his illness has been lingering for the last four or five days, causing some muscle aches and body chills. Hyde said there’s a good chance that Cobb will see a doctor on Tuesday.