BOSTON — RHP Alex Cobb was originally scheduled to pitch Sunday's finale of this three-game series with the Red Sox, a move that would have kept him on his five-day schedule. But the Rays are taking advantage of Thursday's off day to give Cobb a break.
Cobb will pitch Monday, when the Rays open a quick two-game series with the Marlins in Miami. LHP Erik Bedard will pitch Sunday.
“Based on him coming back from injury, just talking to him, we felt it wise to give him one extra day right now, because there is no other chance to give him an extra day as the schedule moves forward,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Monday will be Cobb's third start since he missed 35 days with a left oblique strain. The injury is not an issue, and the bulk of the time Cobb spent on the disabled list was to build arm strength. Proof of that is the Rays are allowing Cobb to swing a bat against the Marlins in the National League park.
“It's all about keeping these guys healthy,” Maddon said. “If we don't keep our pitchers healthy, we ain't going anywhere. Getting Cobber back finally is such a boost to us, so now I think it's wise to take care of him. It's wise to take care of the bullpen. Again, to really get this whole thing done, we've got to be playing well in August and September, and for us to be playing well you have to have your pitchers in good order, so I'd rather take that moment now to make sure he feels good.”
More time behind the plate for Molina
C Jose Molina started Friday and will start tonight, meaning he will catch in seven consecutive games with six starts before he gets a day off.
That much playing time for Molina wasn't the plan until C Ryan Hanigan injured his hamstring Monday in Toronto and the Rays recalled rookie Ali Solis to serve as the second catcher.
“I just got to keep an eye on J-Mo. The day game after the night game would be an issue, so I have to be careful with that,” Maddon said. “Consecutive night games should not be bad.”
Maddon said the playing time between the two should be 2-1 in favor of Molina.
“I'm always ready to play, it doesn't matter if Hanny is hurt or who is here or not, I'm always ready,” Molina said. “If it comes up that Joe needs me more times than usual, I'll be ready for that.”
Solis appeared in his sixth big-league game Wednesday when he replaced Molina in the ninth inning after Molina took a foul tip off his face mask the inning before.
Molina said he has been working with Solis, in spring training and since the catcher joined the team Tuesday.
“First of all, he has a good ear,” Molina said. “Every time I talked to him regarding anything he tries to get it right away, and that's good in anybody. He's always kind of close to me, so whatever I go through out there he can get it.”
Molina said he took Solis to lunch Thursday to talk baseball.
“Share little things, because he'll probably have to come in late in the games, so the more he knows and the more comfortable I can make him feel, it will be useful for him,” Molina said. “I give him everything I know about it. Hopefully he picks it up real good and enjoys this. It's a really good time to be here.”
2B Ben Zobrist (dislocated left thumb) was activated Friday and said his only concern is sliding head first. To guard against injuries, Zobrist will wear a protective mitten on his left hand.
“It has a protective shell to protect my thumb out there if I do anything stupid again. This time, hopefully, I won't do that,” Zobrist said. “But when I'm out in the field I feel pretty comfortable now not having to have a brace in my glove or anything hitting-wise. Besides that mitten, that's all I'll have to do.”
Tony La Russa (June 11), Derrick Brooks (July 27) and retiring Jefferson baseball coach Pop Cuesta (Aug. 15) will throw out the first pitch before Rays games. ... Wednesday's loss to the Jays was the third time this season a team lost on a walk-off error by the pitcher. All three happened last week. It was the 115th walk-off loss in franchise history and only the third by an error.