BOSTON -- It had been a strange offseason for pitcher Alex Cobb, who spent much of it and Spring Training without a place to call home.On March 21, as teams were finalizing their regular-season rosters, the Orioles signed Cobb to a four-year, $57 million deal.While his new teammates broke camp,
BOSTON -- It had been a strange offseason for pitcher Alex Cobb, who spent much of it and Spring Training without a place to call home.
On March 21, as teams were finalizing their regular-season rosters, the Orioles signed Cobb to a four-year, $57 million deal.
While his new teammates broke camp, the right-hander remained back in Sarasota to prepare for the season and made sure he took the proper time to get ready for his first start, which will come in his hometown of Boston on Saturday.
"It's been a little bit of a wild ride the past month," said Cobb, who was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts with Tampa Bay last season. "It's honestly the most comfortable I've felt being in this locker room, somewhere I'm familiar with, in the clubhouse around guys that I know. Just looking forward to getting this whole thing underway and my season started, get back to some normalcy in my life. Looking forward to that competing nature and going out and trying to win ballgames."
The Orioles' newest hurler explained that the process was both fast and slow for him, with those times alone in his hotel being the ones that tended to drag the most.
He pitched in simulated games versus other players in camp, mostly youngsters who were preparing for Gulf Coast League action, and though it was impossible to emulate a real-game situation, Cobb felt the Orioles did well to ensure it was as close as possible.
"They did a very good job," he said. "[Manager Buck Showalter] did a good job in making sure that even those unnormal circumstances he made it very game-like. You couldn't help but face the hitters I was facing, but everything else was as normal to Spring Training as I think we could get it. ... I'm pretty happy and pretty thankful for the way it went."
Showalter added: "He's been champing at the bit to get back here. I really appreciate his and everybody's due diligence about making sure that he got everything that we could give him."
Now, Cobb must find a way to make the results count against one of the hottest teams in the game, on top of dealing with the nuances that come when you pitch in a town with family and friends in the stands.
Regardless of what lies in front of him on Saturday, Cobb and his new team are ready for him to become an integral part of the rotation.
"We got him here for the long haul," Showalter said. "It may not be perfect the first time out, it's hard to do, especially against these guys. But I feel real confident about the amount of time we spent there."
Cobb added: "It's always a little hectic coming to Boston because my family is here, having them come out and dealing with tickets and stuff like that. But that's more of a normal type of situation than what I've been dealing with. Obviously, it's a very tough lineup. They're swinging the bats extremely well right now."
Hart rejoins club
After not breaking camp with the big club, left-handed reliever Donnie Hart worked on being more aggressive at Triple-A Norfolk to start his season.
In three appearances with the Tides, he showed enough -- one hit, one walk, seven strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings -- to earn himself a callup on Friday.
"He was our best option," Showalter said. "Donnie's been throwing the ball well. He's really been aggressive and went after guys down there."
He showed off some off that aggressiveness in the Orioles' 7-3 loss Friday night, throwing 1 1/3 shutout innings.
Hart provides Showalter with a much-needed left-handed arm in the bullpen and will be looking to follow a season in which he made 51 appearances, going 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA, with Baltimore a year ago.
Disappointed in not making the roster out of camp, the southpaw simply went about his business to earn his spot back.
"My focus was to get guys out there and do what I can to get here," Hart said. "If you keep on pitching and keep getting guys out, you're always going to get a chance. That's what you got to do. You can't feel sorry for yourself whenever something like that happens."
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.