ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Alex Cobb took what he said was a "huge" step in his recovery from a strained left oblique by throwing 49 crisp pitches, breaking balls included, in a three-inning simulated game Friday.
"I felt good," Cobb said, adding his biggest concern was his mechanics and not the injury, which no longer is painful.
"I think that's a good sign on its own," he said. "It's out of my mind. I'm trying to work on baseball stuff instead of being cautious and trying to heal."
Cobb, on the disabled list since April 13, said much depends on how he feels today. But the tentative schedule, written "in pencil," he said, includes one or two additional simulated games (one of four innings Monday), one or two rehab starts (though Cobb said he doesn't believe he needs any) and a return to the rotation late in the month.
Whatever the schedule, "I don't think it's going to be a whole long period of time from now to (when) you're going to see him pitch in a game for us," manager Joe Maddon said.
"Everything is going to go off how I feel the next day," Cobb said. "I'm happy with it right now. Hopefully, (today) we'll be even happier when there's nothing wrong."
HELLICKSON UPDATE: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, rehabbing from February's elbow surgery, said he likely will throw 45 pitches in today's bullpen session but will stay away from breaking balls.
Except for a couple he said he'll spin before getting on the mound.
Hellickson said his elbow was "pretty sore" after previous bullpen sessions but added the discomfort is normal for where he is in his recovery.
HISTORY: Though its records admittedly are incomplete, the Elias Sports Bureau has no record of a major-league pitcher accomplishing what Rays RHP Brad Boxberger did Thursday against the Orioles: strike out the side on nine pitches after entering the game with the bases loaded.
"Kind of surreal," said Boxberger who added of later watching his performance on video, "I was kind of in disbelief. It's going to be pretty cool to be able to tell my kids and future family members I was able to do something and make a little bit of history."
PROACTIVE: CF Desmond Jennings said he wasn't disappointed he was held out of Friday's starting lineup.
"I'm disappointed I haven't been producing," he said.
Jennings' 1-for-15 dip comes after he was named AL player of the week for the week ending Sunday after hitting .355 (11-for-31) with three home runs in seven games.
"The last couple of nights weren't typical," Maddon said. "So why not be proactive and get him down before he gets really tired and absolutely needs a day? You look for those little signs to give guys a moment because he's been outstanding."
LITTLE HELP: It has become an annual thing for those attending the Rays' Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Tampa to help Maddon formulate a lineup for that day's game.
So when OF Brandon Guyer's table was, as Maddon said, "really loud," the manager joked that was the excuse to get him in and give Jennings the night off.
"I was easily talked into it because I was looking for a day to give (Jennings) off anyhow," Maddon said.
The Rays now are 2-2 with a lineup out of the luncheon.
Miscellany: Maddon in the first inning successfully challenged an out call at first base that originally was the back end of an inning-ending double play. The inning ended on a double play anyway as James Loney struck out and Ben Zobrist was caught trying to steal second. … The Rays' longest home stretch without a victory happened in 1999: 34 days between May 21 over the Angles and June 25 over the Blue Jays. After Friday's loss, the Rays have gone 17 days since beating the Twins on April 22.