DETROIT — In trying to pitch better and more consistently overall since coming off the disabled list in late May after missing six weeks with an oblique strain, RHP Alex Cobb feels he is making progress in what has been an ongoing battle to get his mechanics right.
Thursday, Cobb acknowledged that his struggles may be the result of not putting in enough work on his mechanics before rejoining the rotation.
"It could be in part that maybe I didn't give enough respect to the fact that I was out for a month and I'm working back into it, and maybe it does need to require a little bit more attention on my part," he said, "But … I've been feeling much better every outing and getting to the point where it's more consistent."
Cobb, tonight's starter against the Tigers, said his approach may have been affected by the success he had in returning from a longer layoff last season, though that was after being struck in the head by a line drive and not an injury tied directly to his delivery.
"Maybe since it was so easy for me to come back last year, or I thought it was so easy to come back last year, I didn't really — I don't want to say I didn't put 100 percent effort into it because I always do every start — but maybe I took a little bit for granted that the mechanics were just going to show up," he said. "I don't know if that was the case, but something to look into."
Bell ringer: As debuts go, it wasn't much. DH Vince Belnome struck out twice and flied out in Thursday's 8-1 loss to the Tigers. But the results couldn't tarnish the significance of the accomplishment of getting to the major leagues for Belnome, a 26-year-old who worked his way up from a 28th-round draft pick and was acquired in a minor-league trade with San Diego.
"This is the ultimate goal, to get up here and play in the big leagues," he said. "It's just an awesome moment."
It was equally so for Belnome's family. His parents drove seven-plus hours from their Coatesville, Pa., home Thursday, and his fiancee drove even farther, from Durham, N.C., to Cleveland, where she picked up her mom and dropped off their dog, and then to Detroit.
Belnome spent a day in the big leagues earlier, called up April 3 when Sean Rodriguez went on the paternity list, but he didn't play. Thursday he was in the lineup hitting sixth.
For every action: To add Belnome, the team sent down LHP Jeff Beliveau, who had been called up Tuesday to bolster the bullpen but didn't pitch. But Beliveau is likely to be back today. After working 3 1/3 innings Thursday, LHP Cesar Ramos is expected to start his paternity leave today — possibly a day sooner than planned — to return to St. Petersburg to join wife Melanie for the birth of their first child, with plans to induce labor Saturday, if necessary. The rule requiring an optioned player to spend 10 days in the minors does not apply in paternity-list cases.
Rehab report: RHP Jeremy Hellickson had a much better outing for Triple-A Durham on Thursday, working 52/3 innings while allowing seven hits and two runs (the second after he left), walking two, striking out four and throwing 86 pitches (55 strikes) in what likely was his last rehabilitation start. "He pitched well; his stuff was good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. Pitchers are allotted 30 days on a rehab assignment; Hellickson's clock expires Sunday. If the Rays don't consider him ready to return, they could option him to the minors for additional work.
Miscellany: To mark July 4, the Rays will wear a dark blue cap with a flag-striped star and a red bill tonight. … The Rays were nearly 21/2 hours late getting to Detroit on Wednesday night due to severe storms in New York. They stuck around Yankee Stadium for an hour, then sat on their bus on the airport tarmac for more than an hour as lightning flashed.