ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jeff Niemann said all spring his shoulder felt fine, and the Rays weren't concerned that his velocity was down a few miles per hour.
But Niemann said Friday that he had been battling soreness for a while. And after it worsened over the past few days, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list. RHP Brandon Gomes was recalled from Triple-A Durham to take his place.
"It's definitely unfortunate," Niemann said, "and other words I can't say right now."
Niemann, 30, was made a long reliever after losing the final rotation spot to RHP Roberto Hernandez. He said he felt pain and "overall achiness" during the first few games while getting his arm adjusted to pitching out of the bullpen.
"When you're sitting down there and you're hoping when the phone rings it's not for you because you don't know if you can go throw a baseball, that's as clear as it got for me," Niemann said.
Niemann, who was to be examined by team doctors Friday night, said the discomfort is similar to what he experienced in September, an injury that shut him down for the rest of the season. He said it's "too early to tell" how long he'll be sidelined. But it will be the third straight season Niemann spends time on the DL.
"It's disappointing for him and for us," manager Joe Maddon said. "I really envisioned him doing a lot of good things for us this year. He still can."
STEPPING IN: Gomes, one of the last cuts of the spring, said he always knew he'd get a chance to help this season.
But he didn't expect it to be so soon, receiving the call Thursday during dinner in Norfolk, Va., on a road trip with Durham.
"I'm extremely happy," he said.
Maddon said Gomes had one of the best camps of any reliever and believes his versatility can be a huge benefit to the bullpen, which posted a 10.13 ERA before three scoreless innings Friday.
Maddon said Gomes, LHP Cesar Ramos and RHP Jamey Wright are options in long relief. But while Niemann would have needed two days between outings and could only start an inning, Gomes can enter any time and pitch on consecutive days.
Gomes, who gave up two runs over 101/3 spring innings, picked up where he left off with a scoreless eighth Friday. "I don't see any reason why I can't continue that type of success," Gomes said.
BREAKING OUT: RHP Alex Cobb has reason to feel comfortable and confident entering his first full season in the rotation. And Cobb, who starts tonight, certainly has raised expectations with success over the past two years. Sports Illustrated predicted he'll be the American League's "breakout pitcher," in a recent issue.
"They're always right, right?" Cobb said, laughing. "Can't go bad this year for me. It's cool. I've never really been mentioned, or I haven't really drawn anybody's interest in years past. So it's nice to get a little mention here in the bottom right corner of Sports Illustrated."
Medical matters: DH Luke Scott tested his strained right calf for the first time since going on the DL, including hitting in the cage, saying it went "absolutely awesome."
TRADE TALK: The team traded C Stephen Vogt to the A's for a player to be named later or cash. Vogt, 28, with the Rays since drafted in 2007, played in 18 big-league games, all last year He was designated for assignment Sunday.
WIL WATCH: Touted OF prospect Wil Myers went 1-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two strikeouts during Triple-A Durham's season opener. RHP Chris Archer allowed one run and three hits over five innings of an 11-2 win at Norfolk.