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Alex Cobb expected to start for Orioles on Friday; Chris Davis scratched with illness

Fresh off about 50 pitches in the ballpark he used to call home, right-hander Alex Cobb is expected to come off the injured list to start for Orioles in Friday’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards, manager Brandon Hyde said Tuesday.

Cobb split his pitches between a live batting practice session and a bullpen session at Tropicana Field, his home ballpark during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2011 to 2017. Originally announced as the Orioles’ Opening Day starter before a groin injury cost him that start, Cobb missed two turns through the rotation with a lower back strain. He held the New York Yankees to two runs in 5 2/3 innings in his lone start of 2019 on April 4.

“No problem with the back,” Hyde said. “Looked really sharp in his live BP this afternoon.

"As of right now, it's the first day against Minnesota."

That would put Cobb in the rotation in place of left-hander John Means, who in two starts has allowed two runs in eight innings and has a team-low 1.98 ERA for the season. The Orioles could instead elect to keep Means in the rotation and remove another starter.

Trumbo yet to begin hitting in rehab

Mark Trumbo has received a lot of questions during his stay at Orioles extended spring training. Most avoid the topic of his health.

Trumbo, who began the season on the injured list as he rehabilitates from right knee surgery, was able to visit with his teammates Tuesday as the Orioles began a three-game series with the Rays. With the exception of other rehabbing major leaguers, Trumbo, 33, has spent most of his time in Sarasota, Fla., with young players getting their first glance at professional baseball.

“It’s a little bit hard to relate,” Trumbo said. “I’m 15 years older than some of those guys. I do what I can. They probably look at me more as a older guy or something, you know, but that is the reality. A lot of them have some pretty good questions. I remember being there when I got drafted, and it’s kind of your first taste, and you don’t really know what you’re doing yet. If I can help them, I’m milling the cage and doing some other stuff, so it’s been fun.”

In the final season of a three-year deal with the Orioles, Trumbo said his rehab has involved “strength-building-type stuff” and his involvement in baseball activities is limited to throwing. Although Trumbo recorded two hits in 12 spring at-bats in an effort to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, he has yet to begin hitting during his extended stay in Florida.

“I’ve been throwing a lot, but I haven’t really started hitting yet,” Trumbo said. “I think that’ll come at some point down the road, but I think we really want to get on top of some of those weaknesses that kinda were holding me back.”

Trumbo said it’s difficult to be away from the team but added how pleased he is to see the team’s efforts to this point. The Orioles are seeking their third road series win, which would match their 2018 total.

“I am very happy with how things have gone here,” Trumbo said. “I think the guys are playing really well. I see a lot of the things that we kind of set out in spring as far as the aggressiveness. Very resilient. Bad game here or there and they’re right back and winning two more, so I’m really happy and pleased.”

Trumbo remains without an official timeline to return, though Hyde referenced Trumbo’s potential 2019 debut as coming “sometime this summer.”

Davis scratched

A day removed from his first home run of the season, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was scratched from the lineup Tuesday with an illness.

Davis, who Saturday ended record streaks of hitless at-bats and plate appearances with a 3-for-5 performance against the Boston Red Sox, was originally in the lineup batting seventh and playing first base. In his place, Trey Mancini moved from right field to first, and Joey Rickard entered the lineup playing right field and batting sixth. Second baseman Hanser Alberto dropped from sixth to seventh in the batting order.

Bleier, Karns progressing

Left-hander Richard Bleier and right-hander Nate Karns are progressing from the arm issues that sent both to early-season stints on the injured list and expect to return shortly.

Bleier, put on the IL last week with tendinitis in his left shoulder, said he recently had an injection into the injured shoulder and has felt improvement.

“I think the whole point is to be on a regular throwing program and to work my way into those games soon in extended and then start a rehab assignment shortly after that,” Bleier said. “As far as exact time, I’m not sure, but hopefully sooner than later.”

Karns noticed diminished velocity before he was placed on the IL for a right forearm strain. This rest period is part of an effort to maintain his arm health after he pitched nine games between the previous two seasons, including none in 2018.

“I wasn’t overly concerned at the beginning,” Karns said. “It wasn’t anything we were really scared of. We were just being precautionary. Velo was kinda dipping, but at the same time, I was able to still pitch. There were mixed signals there. We wanted to make sure everything was safe and ready to go. We went on the 10-day IL and we’re almost through it.”

Both relievers will throw bullpen sessions Wednesday.

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