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Orioles notes: Alex Cobb shows he's 'not that far away' in first bullpen session with club

Free-agent pitcher Alex Cobb talks about what went into his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles. (Baltimore Sun video)

SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles manager Buck Showalter said new right-hander Alex Cobb threw a bullpen session behind Ed Smith Stadium on Thursday, and drew quite a crowd while doing so.

Between that showing and the meeting Cobb had with the manager, pitching coach Roger McDowell and bullpen coach Alan Mills, Showalter said he has a much better idea of how the Orioles will get the starting pitcher up to speed after he signed in the final week of spring training.

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Free-agent pitcher Alex Cobb talks about what went into his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles. (Baltimore Sun video)

"We sat down with him today for an extended period, Roger and Alan, and got a really good feel for what he's thinking, what he's been doing, and kind of putting the program together," Showalter said. "We're not set in stone with it. It's obvious watching him today he's been throwing a lot. He's not that far away. We want to make sure that, much like Zach [Britton], we don't get ahead of ourselves. We've got a couple days in mind."

Showalter indicated that there are plenty of moving parts with the plan. Because of his late signing, Cobb gave his consent to being optioned to the minor leagues so the Orioles don't have to carry him on the 25-man roster without pitching him.

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With so many affiliates close to Baltimore, such as Double-A Bowie and High-A Frederick, the Orioles will be able to get him acclimated to life in his new home and keep him in close contact with the major league staff while he prepares.

Yacabonis optioned as roster takes shape

Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis, who turned 26 on Wednesday, was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday.

Yacabonis has pitched eight times in the Grapefruit League, allowing three runs on eight hits with five walks and seven strikeouts in eight innings.

Showalter said roster conversations were beginning to intensify, and he'd be telling his starters and relievers about some of his plans for how they'd be used this season over the coming days.

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Flaherty on the market

Former Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty exercised his opt-out clause Wednesday and was released by the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, making him a free agent again.

In an effort to provide the best and most complete baseball coverage possible, there's been an increase in the use of analytics and advanced metrics on these pages in recent years. Here's a rundown of some of the most frequently used ones to reference as the season goes on.

Flaherty, 31, had signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, and hit .351 with a .904 OPS in 37 spring training at-bats, but couldn't break camp in a crowded utility infield situation.

The Orioles haven't declared any of Éngelb Vielma or Luis Sardiñas as his heir on the bench, and have discussed taking Danny Valencia as a utility infielder given the middle infield coverage they have among their starters.

Around the horn

Left-hander Chris Lee, who suffered an oblique strain in his second Grapefruit League outing, is back throwing at minor league camp, Showalter said.

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