PORT CHARLOTTE — RHP Alex Cobb made the most of his Monday when he was charged with the unenviable assignment of pitching a simulated game on a back field at Charlotte Sports Park against minor-league hitters during the Tampa Bay Rays' lone off day this spring.
Cobb said he overcame the lack of motivation he endured last week when he pitched a minor-league game instead of facing the Blue Jays and threw 86 pitches in 6ª innings on a blustery morning.
“It turned out to be a really good day with me battling the same issues I kind of had last time with adrenaline, lack of motivation to go out there and be really aggressive to the point where I usually am in regular big-league games,” Cobb said. “I had that in the back of my mind that that was going to be an obstacle I had to overcome, and it turned out to be a really good day. I was able to really feel some things mechanically that I was able to consistently repeat and everything turned out really well.”
Cobb, expected to be the No. 2 starter this season, has pitched in only two Grapefruit Games this spring. His final two starts are both against the Orioles, and Cobb thinks it is important he faces the O's in at least one of those starts. Other than conditioning his body and arm for seven innings and 80-plus pitches, Cobb said there isn't anything else to be gained from pitching to minor-leaguers.
“You need that competitiveness and the game within the game at the big-league level where guys really have approaches and you're really playing chess out there with the opposing batter,” Cobb said. “You really need that feeling, that mentality and just that sense of, nothing against minor-leaguers, but obviously big-leaguers make you pay for your mistakes. There are some mistakes I made down here that probably should have been hits but were outs. You need that feedback from major-league hitters.”
Making an impression
At-bats for INF/OF Jerry Sands and OF Jeremy Moore will become scarce now that the regular position players are playing deeper into games.
Yet manager Joe Maddon said both players who joined the Rays this spring from other organizations proved they are more than power-hitting DHs.
Sands, with the Pirates' Triple-A team last season, is hitting .370 with three home runs and eight RBIs. Moore, with the Dodgers organization in 2013, is hitting .286 with three home runs.
Maddon said both have impressed on defense — Moore in the outfield and Sands at first base.
“You're not just trying to develop a DH,” Maddon said. “You see that these guys can actually play defense, then it becomes more exciting to see what they're doing offensively. This is March. You got to understand that when it comes to the offensive performance, you want to see more of it during the regular season. But, from a scout's perspective, which I'm being right now, these guys, what they do plays, offensively and defensively, so it becomes more intriguing.”
RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo threw batting practice for 10 minutes against minor-league hitters. He is expected to pitch in a Grapefruit League game by the end of the week.
RHP Chris Archer will not face the Orioles on Wednesday. He will pitch in a minor-league game. RHP Grant Balfour will also pitch in a minor-league game.
RHP Mark Lowe is scheduled to start against the Orioles on Wednesday in Sarasota. He will be followed by LHP Jake McGee, RHP Josh Lueke, RHP Steve Geltz and RHP Juan Sandoval.