Tampa Bay Rays RHP Alex Cobb will have surgery Friday in Dallas to remove a blockage near his right first rib caused by Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. He will miss the remainder of the season but is expected to be ready by spring training.
Gregory Pearl, the vascular surgeon who has treated a number of major league pitchers, including Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman of the Tigers, will perform the surgery at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.
The blockage is not a clot but a compression in the vein, similar to a kink in a garden hose, that is causing the numbness in Cobb’s right arm and hand, which he experienced for the first time while pitching Saturday night.
The procedure could be as involved as removing the rib. Pearl won’t know what he is dealing with until the surgery.
Either way, Cobb is expected to resume throwing in 10 to 12 weeks.
"I’m relieved to know what it is and that it isn’t career threatening in any sort of way," Cobb said through a team spokesman. "It’s also good to know that I am in the hands of a specialist who has been down this road before and can treat it properly. I’m ready to get this part over and get on with (head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield’s) rehab program."
The rookie was 3-0 in his first seven starts, but lost his last two. He allowed a season-high five runs in Saturday’s loss to the A’s when he lasted 4 1/3 innings and walked four of the last eight batters he faced.
Cobb complained to Porterfield of "discomfort" in his right hand and was taken to St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg for tests. Those tests did not reveal the blockage. Cobb went to Dallas and was examined Wednesday by Pearl.
OF Justin Ruggiano was placed on the disabled list Wednesday because of bursitis in his left knee, and SS Reid Brignac was recalled from Durham to take his spot on the roster.
Brignac, who was sent to Durham on July 23 to make room for LF Desmond Jennings, was hitting .193. The Rays wanted him to play every day and work on his batting.
Manager Joe Maddon made it clear Brignac didn't hit his way back to the big club.
"No, Reid did not graduate," Maddon said. "We still have a lot of work to do with him yet, and we're going to continue to do so."
Maddon said Sean Rodriguez will continue to be the everyday shortstop and that Brignac will get some starts.
"Overall there's been some improvements, but not to the level that we're really comfortable with yet, so he's going to have to continue to do a lot of work with (hitting coach Derek Shelton)," Maddon said.
Brignac, who spent less than 20 days at Triple A, said he wasn't sure when or if he would return to the Rays this season.
"It couldn't have been quicker for me," said Brignac, who hit .231 in 11 games with the Bulls. "I got some time to think and just clear my head and get back to enjoying playing baseball again. I kind of lost that for a little while, and I got back to having fun."
Beckham, Lee on the move
Tim Beckham, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, moved from Double-A Montgomery to Durham to replace Brignac. Hak-Ju Lee, who came over from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade, was promoted from Class A Charlotte to Montgomery to replace Beckham.
Beckham hit .275 with seven home runs and 57 RBIs for the Biscuits. His 82 runs scored where the third most in the Southern League.
Lee was fourth in the Florida State League with a .317 average. He had 22 RBIs, 28 stolen bases, 81 runs, 16 doubles and 11 triples.
Charlotte County detectives on Wednesday arrested Steven Charles Vaughn, 22, of Port Charlotte in connection with the spring training robbery of the home rented by 3B Evan Longoria, LHP David Price and Brignac. … According to Elias, RHP James Shields, David Wells (1998) and Roy Halladay (2009) are the only pitchers in the past 17 years to have at least eight complete games and four shutouts in one season. Wells had five shutouts and Halladay had nine complete games.