PORT CHARLOTTE — RHP Alex Cobb planned to be more relaxed this spring, with a job in the rotation seemingly secure.
Then he went out Monday "too amped up" and had a messy debut, allowing a long home run to Dustin Pedroia and four hits total while needing 38 pitches to complete two innings in a 6-3 Rays win over Boston.
"Trying to throw a little bit too hard, keeping the ball up, rushing a little bit," Cobb said, ticking off his transgressions. "When I did control myself and stay on top of the ball, I had good results."
Manager Joe Maddon said he wasn't surprised because Cobb typically tends to be overamped early in games anyway, even if it was the first start of the spring. " 'Cobber' is just that guy," he said.
Maddon said the quality of pitches and velocity were fine, so he wasn't concerned about the lack of command.
INSIDE JOB: OF/DH Jonny Gomes, a Ray through the '08 breakthrough season, returned with Boston saying he's not surprised the Rays have continued their run of success despite losing so many key parts.
"Players come and go, but the anchor is always here in Joe and (executive VP Andrew) Friedman and their staff," Gomes said. "They haven't gone anywhere, which means a lot. You go to different teams, different camps, and they're continually trying to, like, find the winning chemistry, trying to find the winning way of things, and it's found here. They got it."
JOBBED: Free agent Johnny Damon told the New York Daily News he thought he had a chance to rejoin the Rays this season but was stung again by their lack of interest. They let him go after 2011 in favor of Luke Scott, who was re-signed for 2013 despite an off-year. "I guess if you have a bad year and get hurt, you get re-signed," Damon said. "I had a good year there (.261, 16 HRs, 73 RBIs), and they didn't want me back."
LONGO UPDATE: 3B Evan Longoria went through the full pregame routine and ran the bases with no issues, so he is expected to make his spring debut today. Longoria missed three days last week to attend the birth of his daughter, who remains hospitalized in Boca Raton after being born six weeks early. Girlfriend Jaime Edmondson was released from the hospital over the weekend.
GAME DETAILS: After first-inning walks by Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce, new SS Yunel Escobar delivered a two-run double. … 3B Ryan Roberts made a dazzling diving stop-and-throw, and delivered a two-run double. Which did he like better? "Both," he said. … RHP Jamey Wright struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning, and LHP Cesar Ramos, headed to the World Baseball Classic, worked two hitless innings. … OF Brandon Guyer, sidelined by leg soreness, made his spring debut. … Cy Young Award-winning LHP David Price makes his first start today, and RHP Kyle Farnsworth is scheduled for his debut.
MISCELLANY: Maddon visited pregame with Tony La Russa, the longtime manager and now MLB exec, about current and future rule changes, including elimination of the fake-to-third-throw-to-first play, which he said "should help us." … Ben Zobrist, who has been hitting in Jennings' leadoff spot to get more at-bats to prep for the World Baseball Classic, is slated to play short today.