Just when things seemed as though they were going well for Alex Cobb, disaster struck. Even though he got hit with that line drive on Saturday night, the initial reports were encouraging. He had a minor concussion, and may be back after seven games. Considering the nature of the play, it seemed quite fortunate that he had escaped any severe injuries.
Now, that initial optimism has been dashed. Cobb is now dealing with an undisclosed ear problem, which could sideline him for the rest of the year. The most frightening part of the injury may not even be the lack of a time table for the return, but the injury itself. The ear is central to balance, so depending on the extent of the injury, this could be far more serious than it appears to be even now. As a pitcher, balance is a major part of being able to repeat a delivery. Any problem with balance could cause a pitcher’s mechanics to suffer, and could potentially lead to other injuries, such as to the arm or shoulder.
Another possible issue would be any long term affects from the head injury. Even though there have been a lot of advances made when it comes to diagnosing and treating head injuries, there is still not a lot known about the affects. Plus, symptoms can last for a long time afterwards. Just look at Brandon McCarthy, who had a seizure a week and a half ago that is directly related to the head injury he suffered last year. Even when Cobb is eventually cleared to pitch again, he may still find himself having problems due to the initial injury months later.
Then there is the concern of how Cobb will be once he comes back. Some pitchers have been hit in the head, and were never the same, if they were able to come back at all. Bryce Florie was essentially finished after he was struck in the face by a line drive. Other pitchers had changed their mechanics, leading to other injuries. And there have been cases where the pitcher just doesn’t react to a ball hit back at him, not even realizing that he was almost hit again by a line drive.
It is still far too early to speculate as to how bad this injury may be for Alex Cobb, but it certainly does not seem promising. Head and ear injuries are very tricky things, and are still not fully understood. Hopefully, Cobb will be able to get back on the mound and continue to build on the promising start that he had; but until anyone learns more on his situation, all we can do is wait and hope for the best.