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Orioles' Alex Cobb still searching for the right stuff after recovering from groin and back soreness

Right-hander Alex Cobb expect to start for the Orioles during their weekend series in Minnesota, but the team hasn't set its rotation for the three-game set that begins Friday night.
Right-hander Alex Cobb expect to start for the Orioles during their weekend series in Minnesota, but the team hasn't set its rotation for the three-game set that begins Friday night. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)

Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb said he traded a regular side session for a simulated game on Monday in an attempt to refine his command after allowing nine runs in just 2 2/3 innings to the Minnesota Twins in his last start.

He gave up 10 hits and three home runs in the second game of Saturday’s rain-makeup doubleheader, during which the O’s and Twins set a major league record by combining for 17 home runs.

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Cobb was making only his second start of the season after missing his Opening Day assignment in New York with a groin strain and getting scratched the day before what originally would have been his second start because of back spasms.

He had pitched just once over a span of nearly a month after throwing just one inning in his final exhibition appearance on March 23.

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As Orioles relievers Miguel Castro and Tanner Scott look to put Monday's struggles behind them, manager Brandon Hyde and his coaching staff have to help players improve and focus on development while ensuring that the results matter, too.

“So I went into the game and obviously was not sharp,’’ Cobb said. “It was one of those feelings where you’re kind of lost out there and everything’s fast and you’re throwing to an area and not really pinpointing a location. The best way I found to get out that was to face hitters more often and kind of get that sharpness back.”

The groin injury forced the Orioles to give Cobb’s Opening Day assignment at Yankee Stadium to Andrew Cashner. The consolation prize was the opportunity to start the home opener instead, and Cobb threw a solid 5 2/3 innings against the Yankees.

The lower back problem came out of nowhere and turned out to be much worse than anyone could have anticipated.

“I think that the injury that I had was a little bit different than we were expecting, especially myself,’’ Cobb said. “I thought I was going to be able to make my next start when it first happened. It was just like a little quick back spasm, where my back went out, and I’ve had it before and it’s three or four days and it gets back to strength pretty quickly.

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A New York court has sealed a key decision of a Major League Baseball arbitration panel in the dispute between the Orioles and the Washington Nationals over television rights fees and profits from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

“I don’t know if I had a setback in the meantime or what, but it got really bad and before you know it, I was two-plus weeks off. Doing nothing. Not running. Not throwing. … Really not able to keep up any type of endurance of any type of physical activity it takes to maintain your crispness throughout the season.”

Cobb said the simulated game action went well. He threw 35 pitches and thinks the back problem has resolved. He expects to pitch against the Twins again this weekend, but the rotation for the weekend series at Target Field has not been announced.

Karns’ bullpen session

Right-hander Nate Karns threw a side session on Tuesday and is waiting to find out when he will make a minor league rehab appearance for the Norfolk Tides.

He has made four appearances out of the bullpen this season without allowing an earned run, but has not pitched since experiencing forearm soreness after an appearance against the Oakland A’s on April 8.

Mike Wright and Cedric Mullins lost their places on the major league roster on back-to-back days and others are going to follow. That's the harsh reality of the Orioles' rebuilding effort.

“It sounds like it went pretty good,’’ manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re getting him checked out here and if all goes well, he’ll throw for Norfolk in a couple days.”

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