ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays' starting pitcher for Thursday's series finale against Oakland is no longer listed as “To Be Announced.”
All signs pointed to RHP Alex Cobb making his first start since suffering a strained oblique muscle during his third start of the season April 13, and the team made it official after Tuesday's game.
Cobb completed a minor-league rehab assignment Saturday in Port Charlotte, allowing three hits and striking out nine while allowing a run in five innings of work. He threw 64 pitches, 46 for strikes. He tossed 11 more pitches in the bullpen Saturday, then had a bullpen session Monday without any issues.
“It's extremely encouraging,” Cobb said. “I talked to the guys with the front office and the training staff and got through that final bullpen and gave them the thumbs up. With everything good to go it is extremely exciting, and obviously I can't wait to get back out there.”
The Rays optioned relief pitcher Brandon Gomes to Triple-A Durham on Monday, which leaves the staff short one and opens up a spot for Cobb when he is activated off the disabled list. LHP Cesar Ramos, who had been in the rotation since the injury to Cobb, entered Tuesday's game in relief in the fifth inning and will likely return to the bullpen permanently.
Getting Cobb back in the rotation will be a welcome relief.
“This guy, he is one of the best pitchers, perhaps in all of baseball, so getting him back is important to us,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “When you are attempting to get on any kind of a roll you need to be able to sustain it, and you normally sustain it through starting pitching. For us it's starting pitching and defense, and we have never really been able to sustain anything based on offense only. So this is our DNA. We have to play that way, we have to stay true to ourselves, and he helps bring us back to being a little bit more complete.”
Fixed on a tee
RF Wil Myers spent some time before batting practice hitting balls off a tee. Myers is trying to make an adjustment with his mechanics to help get him out of a slump, with no home runs and just two RBIs in 13 games entering Tuesday.
The pregame workout came after Maddon and hitting coach Derek Shelton exchanged some ideas after watching video of Myers' swing from last year.
“There was one thing specifically I was working on. I don't want to go into too much detail about it, but it's something from last year that I wasn't doing this year,” Myers said. “And it looks small, but it's kind of a major thing that I wasn't doing.”
The reigning American League Rookie of the Year also started off slow last season in Triple-A Durham and hit a rough patch in August before working himself out of the slump. But Myers said there is no comparison between the slumps he encountered last year and the one he is going through now.
“Now it's kind of swinging at bad pitches and missing my pitches and a couple of other mechanical things,” he said. “It's not the pitching. I think even if I was in high A right now, I would be struggling.
“It's more of a mental thing so I just need to turn it around as soon as possible.”
No trip to the DL
C Ryan Hanigan avoided being placed on the disabled list and came off the bench late in Tuesday's game after missing the previous two games with tightness in his hamstring.
After getting treatment during Monday's off day, Hanigan went through a light workout Tuesday while going through a full battery of baseball action.
Hanigan said he felt good to go and hopes to be back in the starting lineup today.
“I did all the stuff that I have to do baseball-wise,” Hanigan said. “I feel good after a couple days of treatment and a little bit of rest. I think it was just a little bit of a cramp. It's definitely manageable. I just have to stay on my treatment and be smart about it. But all the baseball activities I did (Tuesday), it didn't bother me.”
Members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee football team were on hand to watch batting practice Tuesday. The Wounded Warrior team will play against a group of Tampa Bay Buccaneers alumni tonight at 6 at Plant High School. ... OF Desmond Jennings was reinstated from the bereavement list after missing two games. ... Maddon challenged an out call in the third inning on a double-play ball off the bat of Jennings with the bases loaded. The bang-bang play was upheld after a 62-second review.