Trumbo has encouraging return to lineup

Cobb named Opening Day starter; Scott's spring struggles continue

March 13th, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Should Mark Trumbo have dug into the batter’s box two weeks from now, or in May or even in August -- the last time he had prior to Tuesday -- he admits the objective would’ve been different. But at the current juncture, Trumbo mainly just wants to get out of it, whether he reaches base safely or not.

That’s the only way he’ll truly be able to test his surgically repaired right knee, by feeling the dirt of the base path under his spikes. And in that sense, Trumbo was able to consider his return to lineup a success, despite going hitless in two at-bats in the Orioles’ 6-4 win over the Blue Jays.

“I was really hoping to put the ball in play. Didn’t care if I got a hit or not, I was just trying to stress a little bit, see how it holds up,” said Trumbo. “And it feels normal, so that’s a good sign.”

Trumbo twice bounced to short against Toronto righty Marcus Stroman, once after an eight-pitch at-bat and the other on a first-pitch sinker. Both times he was able to sprint down the first base line without issue.

In all, the effort marked his first game action since Aug. 19 and a tangible reward of 8 1/2 months of rehab that has the slugger hopeful to be ready for Opening Day.

“You’d just like to keep going,” said Trumbo, who underwent surgery to correct a chondral defect Sept. 1. “It feels strong. Now it’s about getting as many at-bats as I can.”

The process has already begun, with Trumbo bringing close to 20 at-bats against live pitching on the backfields this spring. He could see more in game action as early as Thursday, as he’s slated to start at DH again -- should his knee recover adequately. Going forward, though, the results will matter more. Trumbo’s progress will be tied to his offensive success; he will not be able to test his knee cutting bases, sliding, going first-to-third or scoring from second unless he reaches base consistently in Grapefruit League play.

Which is why at this point, the 33-year-old’s status for March 28 in New York remains questionable. But he’s trending toward being ready for that day.

“I want to be able to do at least my version of what’s acceptable and bring something to the table,” Trumbo said. “Not be a base-clogger.”

Cobb could tell

After being named the Orioles’ Opening Day starter earlier in the day, Alex Cobb admitted he tried to act coy when Hyde broke the news. But the cerebral righty had to feign surprise; he’d already anticipated the honor after analyzing the Orioles’ pitching schedule and mapping out the remaining days.

“[Hyde] pointed at me, gave me the finger point, pulled me into the other room. I thought I might have been in trouble for a second. He shook my hand,” Cobb recalled. “I told him, ‘I’d like to act surprised, but I already knew.’ Knowing its real, though, really hits you in a special way.”

Worth noting

Chris Davis reported no issues a day after returning to game action on Tuesday, Hyde said. Davis -- who had been sidelined for nine days with a strained left hip flexor -- is slated to be back in the Orioles lineup on Thursday against the Twins.

Andrew Cashner, too, expressed no surprise when hearing Cobb will pitch on Opening Day -- the Orioles tabbing Cobb for the start over Cashner and Dylan Bundy. Cashner could’ve conceivably pushed for the honor with a strong spring, but he’s struggled in Grapefruit League play both before and after the announcement.

Wednesday, Cashner allowed three runs while needing 73 pitches (43 strikes) to throw 3 2/3 innings. He was slated to complete four innings; it marked the second time in three starts he’s been removed early due to pitch count concerns.

“I’m really happy for him,” Cashner said, of Cobb. “He had a great second half last year after getting through a tough start being late.”

• Though he escaped unscored upon, left-hander Tanner Scott continued to do himself no favors by allowing three runners to reach during his lone inning of work. With a fastball that can reach triple-digits and a wipeout slider, Scott may have the best pure stuff in Orioles camp. But he may also be pitching himself off the roster bubble. His 12.60 ERA across five innings this spring comes in stark contrast to the 0.00 mark posted by Paul Fry, the other young lefty vying for a role in Baltimore’s ‘pen.

Sad news

The Orioles announced the passing of Richard Armstrong, the franchise’s original director of public relations who remained connected to the organization for more than three decades. Armstrong is credited with creating baseball’s first mascot, “Mr. Oriole,” among other accomplishments. He died Monday, according to the club, which did not release his age.

Up next

Bundy (13.50 Grapefruit League ERA) will look to right his uneven spring when he takes the mound Thursday against the Twins. Right-hander Chase De Jong opposes for Minnesota, with first pitch set for 1:05 pm ET from Ed Smith Stadium.