Berkman returns to practice with 'not serious' knee injury

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The knee problem that kept Lance Berkman from working out yesterday has been diagnosed as a left knee contusion, with team doctor David Lintner deeming the injury “not serious” and Berkman returning to action this morning.
Bernardo Fallas of the Houston Chronicle reports that Berkman had a “limited workout” that included taking a few swings and some ground balls at first base. “The good news from the MRI is whatever the problem is, I’m not going to be able to make it worse,” Berkman said. “So there’s no reason not to try to do as much as I can.”
Despite the good news Berkman won’t play in the Astros’ spring training opener tomorrow and may also sit out Friday’s game.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.