BOSTON — All things considered, RHP Alex Cobb couldn't be more thrilled to be in Port Charlotte tonight.
Thirty-eight days after being struck on the side of the head by a line drive, Cobb will be back on the mound pitching in a game, making the first of at least two rehab starts for the Class A Stone Crabs.
"If you'd have told me after the incident happened I'd be back pitching in a game in a little more than a month, I'd be extremely happy," Cobb said Monday by phone from St. Petersburg.
Cobb said nearly all the symptoms from his concussion are gone — though he occasionally still gets slight headaches, "no more than a normal person who wasn't hit in the head," he joked — and he has been cleared by Major League Baseball doctors to return.
He has worked his way through bullpen sessions, batting practice and a simulated game, he but acknowledged that tonight — with a limit of four innings or 60 pitches — is the key stage in his recovery, physically and mentally.
"I feel good coming in about pitching in a game," he said. "Now the next step is to see how I feel actually pitching in a game."
Cobb is curious to see how he handles the pressure of competition and responds to things speeding up in game situations, and said that if it is an issue he will take more time before returning. "There's no need to rush especially the way the team is playing," he said. "I want to make sure I'm 100 percent before coming back."
Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays have not yet thought about how they will make room for Cobb, though it certainly would seem to be a decision between keeping RHP Roberto Hernandez, who starts tonight, or impressive rookie RHP Chris Archer in the rotation.
MYERS OUT, ESCOBAR IN: Rookie OF Wil Myers took swings and said his left wrist "was just about 100 percent" but Maddon said the Rays wanted to be cautious and keep him out of the lineup for a second day, though he was available to pinch-hit.
After originally saying the soreness was the result of a slide Saturday, Myers now said he wasn't sure what caused it. "I think, honestly, I slept on it wrong," he said. "I don't know what really happened. It was kind of a strange thing. It didn't have anything to do with putting my hand down (on a slide)."
Myers said he has had issues with that wrist before. "I've dealt with it," he said. "I've had that knot there and it just flares up when I slide."
SS Yunel Escobar was "adamant" he felt good enough to return to the lineup, and after he went through a light afternoon workout, Maddon agreed. Escobar hadn't played since the All-Star break due to tightness in his right hamstring. He went 1-for-2 with two walks, scoring a run. He moved well in the field, setting a team mark with his 53rd straight errorless game.
GOING LONGO: With his Sunday home run, 3B Evan Longoria reached 150 for his career, which he called "a cool number." He called his 20 for this season "a nice round number."
Longoria, per ESPN, is the seventh third baseman to have 150 or more homers in his first six seasons, joining Eddie Mathews, Mark Reynolds, Mike Schmidt, Troy Glaus, Bob Horner and Chipper Jones.
He also is the sixth to have five 20-homer seasons in his first six, joining Mathews, Horner, Jones, Scott Rolen and Jim Ray Hart.
MISCELLANY: DH Luke Scott had his career-best 13-game hitting streak snapped. … The Rays logged their 12th shutout, tying Cleveland for the AL lead. … The Rays are 4-9 vs. Boston. … The 21-4 run is a franchise best for 25 games. … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg was on hand. … RHP Brandon Gomes, working his way back from an early May lat strain, will make a rehab appearance following Cobb. … Navy Petty Officer Third Class Corey Loveless, a New Port Richey native, was honored during the game in the Red Sox's Hats Off to Heroes Program.