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Acknowledging the Rays Way for Alex Cobb and pitcher injuries

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This morning I returned from a conference in Dallas to the unfortunate duty of updating my SB Nation season preview for Alex Cobb's forearm injury. Should we be panicking?

GM Matt Silverman seems optimistic, noting that Smyly, Cobb, and Colome could all return to form in April.

"It's too early for us to know who will start on Opening Day," Silverman said yesterday. "Our focus is on getting our rotation set for the month of April and making sure that we match up properly given the personnel that we have. That's something we're focused on, and hopefully we'll figure out over the next couple days."

That statement seems to quell trade rumors, as most options out there of decent spot starters with options or flexibility are likely expensive.

"The beginning of April is going to be a challenge," Silverman said, stating the obvious. April could be an AL East bloodbath, but there's a silver lining.  "We have an off-day after the first series, that helps. We're going to be utilizing a number of arms, and trying to put our guys in the position to succeed and weather this storm."

Silverman concluded by saying that the goal of their treatment of these guys, like Cobb who had just thrown three perfect innings when he was removed from the game, is to catch injuries before they happen.

Cobb removed himself from that start, fessing up to the tightness in the top-inside of his forearm so that trainers could address immediately.

That's a pitcher confident in himself, his position, and his training staff and exactly what you'd want from any player. Pitching through pain in any context beyond the post season seems to be foolishness.

With that said, "At least we're not the Mets" is a thing I've been thinking a lot recently, particularly when stories like Zack Wheeler come to bear. One of last year's most used pitchers, Wheeler played all of last season through pain -- specifically bone spurs and a partially torn tendon -- and will now require Tommy John surgery.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that resting Wheeler last year or reducing his workload would not have spared his UCL—that ligament was going to tear inevitably, according to team doctors. And he laughed at the idea that the Mets, who have a host of exciting young pitchers, would knowingly put one at risk.

That's a brutal takedown by Deadspin, and an appropriate one. Even if the UCL wasn't repairing, it's hard to imagine that pitching with the bone spurs was worth it. Perhaps it was just a time bomb and Wheeler only wanted one surgery, I'm not sure why this particular UCL injury was guaranteed to not self-repair, as partially torn ligaments can.

"Anything that happened last year, or any other time Zack has been a Met, has been with complete and full knowledge of the circumstances, and occurred after consultation with qualified orthopedic surgeons."

That's Wheeler's agent B.B. Abbott talking to ESPN. Perhaps the circumstances were known to everyone. I just find it surprising.

***

In other pitcher injury news, there are some positive reports for Drew Smyly and Belisario on their journey back to playing shape. Belisario has been cleared to play catch after a fractured shoulder, and Smyly is now playing catch from 100 feet.

Closer Jake McGee returned to the mound yesterday after passing the test of playing catch from 130 feet, trainer Ron Porterfield's benchmark. His time table is something like 4-5 weeks into the season, the end of April or beginning of May.

Then, on the bright side, Alex Colome has been released from the hospital after a seven day stay due to pneumonia. He's expected to be side lined a few more days for rest and recovery and then will resume baseball activities.

On the shadowed side(?), and if you've ever been struck by a severe case you might relate, Colome might have a rough go of it preparing for the season. Weight loss and muscle loss can be extreme while you fight different types of pneumonia. Colome says he dropped 10-12 pounds, and considering he's a professional athlete, there's concern he might have lost mostly muscle and strength and keep him from game shape for a while.

Links

- Rays line up for today's game, including Longo who requested to be in a third straight game this morning.

- Why fix a wall when you can just put a plaque above it?

- Eno Sarris makes a detailed case for diving into first base. Uh, please don't anyway.

- R.J. Anderson did his thing looking into Scott Karmir's obviousness.

- A sneak peek from Fangraphs ranks the Rays defense tied for eighth in the coming season, with negative runs saved at 2B and SS, but not saying who they used there.

- Sir Plus would be pleased by this look at cost effective lineups by projected fWAR. It's rather high level.

- The Phillies would eat $50M on a Ryan Howard trade. Would you give up value for Howard at 2/$10?

- And finally, the wisdom of Gammo.