RHP Alex Cobb makes his third career start tonight, facing the Angels for the second time. He faced them May 1 during his major-league debut.
The last time didn't go so well. Cobb tipped his pitches and let a 5-0 first-inning lead slip away. He did not get the decision in the Rays' 6-5 loss.
Cobb said the pitch-tipping issues are no longer issues.
"I was joking with (pitching coach Jim Hickey) the other day, maybe I'll mess with them a little bit," Cobb said. "He was all for it."
Cobb pitched well in his last start, holding the Rangers to two runs in 61/3 innings in what became a 5-4 victory.
Cobb wasn't tipping his pitches against the Rangers. Or, if he did, the Rangers didn't pick up on it.
"This is even a better test, and I'm kind of eager to see it, because we're going to find out if it's been cured or not," manager Joe Maddon said. "We'll be able to recognize their swings and how they're looking at things. We're pretty confident he's over it."
Cobb, still looking for his first big-league win, said he feels more relaxed for this start.
"I feel a lot better," he said. "I feel a lot more calm, especially this road trip, going on the road with the guys and not feeling out of place."
He also said he sees tonight's start as the end of a grading period of sorts.
"I think (tonight) should be a good sample size I can kind of judge where I've come since that first start," he said. "I can give myself my first evaluation (tonight)."
More work for J.P.
Maddon said much of LHP J.P. Howell's struggles since returning from the disabled list on May 20 stem from the fact he has pitched in only five games.
"I just think more than anything he needs to pitch a little more often to really get his sharpness back, and that's what we're going to give him a chance to do," Maddon said. "I think once we take the blanket off him a little bit he's going to perform better."
Howell, who took the loss Sunday and has allowed eight hits and 10 runs (seven earned) in 31/3 innings, is all for it.
"We've talked and we said let's play it like you're not on a schedule or a routine," Howell said. "Let's get it going."
Howell said knowing he had plenty of rest between appearances softened the edge he normally has when he comes to the park knowing he could be used that night.
"I like it better when I got a little butterfly going," he said.
3B Evan Longoria and CF B.J. Upton did not play Monday because of the flu bug that is being passed around the locker room.
Upton was not in the lineup, and Longoria was scratched before the game.
The Rays signed RHP Lance Cormier to a minor-league contract Monday and assigned him to Durham. Cormier, part of the Rays' bullpen the past two seasons, was released by the Dodgers after going 0-1 with a 9.88 ERA in 132/3 innings.
"He's done good work for us in the past. He knows us, we know him. I think it's a good signing," Maddon said.
As expected, Maddon set his rotation for the upcoming Red Sox series this way: RHP James Shields, RHP Jeremy Hellickson and LHP David Price. Price will start Saturday in Baltimore. RHP Wade Davis will start Sunday. Cobb is scheduled to pitch the makeup game Monday in Detroit. … Maddon caught the first pitch before Monday's game from former Angel Rick Reichardt, the first player to homer at Angel Stadium.