Cobb injures groin, could miss Opening Day

March 24th, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Around this time four years ago, earned his first Opening Day start, for the Rays. A few days later, Cobb was diagnosed with a tear in the ulna collateral ligament of his right elbow. He missed the start and the entire season.

Now he might miss another opener.

The Orioles are preparing contingency plans after a right groin strain forced Cobb to exit one inning into Saturday’s 8-7 loss to the Twins, which was designed to be the right-hander’s final regular-season tuneup. Though not nearly as calamitous as the previous elbow ailment -- which required Tommy John surgery -- the injury clouds Cobb’s status for Opening Day and throws the Orioles’ already uncertain pitching plans entirely into flux.

“It’s so up in the air right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Just add one to the list.”

That list Hyde referred to was of roster questions the Orioles still face. It was lengthy on the pitching side to begin with, well before Cobb first felt fatigue in his groin area while warming up in the bullpen late Saturday afternoon. It got longer shortly after Cobb’s second in-game pitch, which Max Kepler tapped toward Chris Davis at first. Cobb, covering the bag, then felt his upper leg grab.

“I probably could have kept going, but it wouldn’t have made any sense to. I definitely felt something there that was concerning,” Cobb said. “If this was a regular-season game, I’m trying to push the limits on it a little bit more.”

Cobb needed just 11 pitches to retire the next two batters, then left to receive treatment from the club’s medical staff. He did not undergo an MRI and said there are no plans to. Instead, Cobb said he expects to test the groin during his regularly scheduled side session on Monday.

“Who knows what this is going to be,” Cobb said. “I can’t make any type of judgment call until we see how it feels tomorrow or the next day.”

The Orioles might not be able to wait that long. Five days separate them and Thursday’s regular-season opener in New York. That day’s starter would need to be on four days' rest, which means he could have pitched, at the latest … Saturday. It’s exactly why Cobb, whom the Orioles had pegged to start Opening Day for weeks, was lined up for Saturday against Minnesota.

“It would obviously be tough,” he said. “You look at it because it’s going to be a cool moment. But you don’t sacrifice the length of what this injury could be because you want to experience that cool moment. If it becomes an either-or decision I have to make, I’m going to decide to make sure it doesn’t become a prolonged issue.”