Updates from Tuesday, May 20
Tampa Bay Times reporter Joe Smith reports that Cobb is set to return to the mound:
#Rays make it official. Cobb to start Thurs. Ramos to pen.— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) May 21, 2014
Updates from Thursday, May 15
Tampa Bay Times reporter Roger Mooney has an update on Cobb's status:
#rays Cobb will make his minor league rehab start Saturday in Port Charlotte.— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) May 15, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, May 14
RHP Alex Cobb felt good Tuesday, having thrown his second simulated game the day before, and is set for what could be the final test in his return from a strained oblique with a rehab start Saturday. "He came out of it well,'' Maddon said.
If Cobb, likely to pitch for the Class A Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte, gets through that start okay, he will be set to rejoin the rotation May 22 vs. Oakland.
Updates from Tuesday, May 13
The Tampa Bay Rays provide an update on Alex Cobb's recovery:
Some encouraging news: Alex Cobb feels great the day after his simulated game. He'll throw a bullpen tomorrow, make a rehab start Saturday.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 13, 2014
Updates from Monday, May 12
Alex Cobb has made the next step in his rehab according to Josh Vitale of the Charlotte Sun:
Updates from Tuesday, May 6
Tampa Bay Times reporter Joe Smith reports Cobb could be back in the near future:
Updates from Sunday, April 13
Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune has the latest on Alex Cobb:
MRI on #rays Cobb showed a strain. Could be out longer that 15 days. 6 to 8 weeks usually the norm— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) April 13, 2014
After the Reds' 12-4 win over the Rays Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times added:
#Rays Cobb said it is"really disappointing" to hear the MRI results + hard to believe he will be out 4-6 weeks because he doesn't feel hurt— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 13, 2014
Mooney reports on when the initial injury may have occurred:
#rays Cobb said the injury occurred while pitching to 1st batter of saturdays game. Said it had nothing to do with hitting— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) April 13, 2014
Less than 24 hours after tossing seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.
The team announced the move prior to Sunday's first pitch in Cincinnati. Jeff Beliveau will come up from the minors to take Cobb's spot on the roster:
RH Alex Cobb has been placed on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain, LH Jeff Beliveau recalled for today's game.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 13, 2014
Cobb, 26, was seen in obvious discomfort at different points in his start but managed to stay in the game and turn in a gem. He didn't walk a batter and allowed just four hits in his seven innings of work while striking out five. Tampa Bay has won the first two contests of the three-game series, and its pitching staff has allowed just one run to the scuffling Reds offense.
Cobb didn't indicate he was experiencing any pain after the game, though he left after only 87 pitches. The righty focused on his performance, per Bill Chastain of MLB.com:
I saw how David [Price] attacked in and out of the zone yesterday. With this team, you know you can dabble outside the zone, but you really do have to show that you can work outside the zone also. They're an aggressive team, so...I could expand out of the zone a little bit and went with that until I proved that I could come in the zone also.
While it's not expected to be a long-term absence, Cobb's injury couldn't come at a worse time. The once-loaded Rays rotation now looks suddenly vulnerable, with Cobb joining Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson on the disabled list. Tampa Bay has just three rostered starters who are not currently on the disabled list. Manager Joe Maddon will likely rely on spot starts from minor leaguers in the interim while awaiting a long-term diagnosis.
The Rays purchased the contract of left-hander Erik Bedard on Sunday, so he should get the first look. Bedard signed with Tampa Bay during the offseason but did not make the majors during spring training. He was 4-12 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.48 WHIP last season in 32 games (26 starts) with the Houston Astros.
As noted by Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will now be carrying three starters in their rotation who were competing for the fifth spot a month ago:
Bedard could take Cobb's spot in rotation. That would mean all three competitors for fifth starter would be in rotation (Ramos, Odorizzi)— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) April 13, 2014
In three starts this season, Cobb is 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He's coming off a stellar second full big-league campaign in which he went 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts. Cobb missed two months in 2013 while dealing with a concussion after being hit in the head by a line drive.
Tampa Bay's infrastructure is built to withstand a couple of these absences, but losing Cobb and Moore at the same time could prove difficult. The Rays currently hold a one-game lead in the American League East at 7-5, but in baseball's toughest division, any short-term weakness could have long-term consequences in September and October.
The Yankees and Red Sox have scuffled to mediocre starts but should round into form in the interim. Baltimore and Toronto also look improved from their 2013 selves, though it's far too early in the season to make any long-term assumptions.
That said, games in April still count. Having Cobb miss a minimum of two starts (likely three) could ultimately be the razor-thin margin that separates these teams later in the season if Bedard can't produce.
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