ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays caught a break on the injury front Tuesday, as C Ryan Hanigan's sore right hamstring felt good enough to where he'll avoid going on the disabled list.
"Big relief," he said.
Hanigan, who left Friday's game with a "cramp or mild strain," said the extra couple of days of treatment and rest helped loosen it up, and he felt good after testing the muscle with an array of baseball activities Tuesday afternoon. Hanigan entered in the ninth behind the plate Tuesday night, and manager Joe Maddon said he'll likely start tonight against the A's.
"Good news," Maddon said.
Hanigan said he'll have to stay smart with the injury and keep an eye on it, but it's "manageable." Whether it limits his workload — Hanigan has made the lion's share of the starts behind the plate — remains to be seen.
"I'm not sure, I hope not," Hanigan said. "I want to be there for this team, I want to be out there."
ON TRACK: RHP Alex Cobb (oblique strain) declared himself ready to return to the rotation and will start Thursday.
"Can't wait to get back out there," Cobb said.
With Cobb coming back, LHP Cesar Ramos returned to the bullpen Tuesday night, working in long relief after RHP Jake Odorizzi was pulled two outs into the fifth. Ramos said he was disappointed but understood the team's decision, but hope he left an impression.
"I think they appreciate the option they have with me, because you can do whatever and I'm going to figure it out and try it," Ramos said. "So I think it's good they've seen me at least start, and hopefully later down the line, who knows? It's like going into spring training, that's the last thing you'd thought, 'Oh Ramos would be a starter for the Rays?' Yeah right. It happened."
Cobb, who had normal soreness after Saturday's minor-league rehab start for Class A Charlotte, was encouraged after his Monday bullpen session and Tuesday catch went well. "To come out with everything good to go is extremely exciting," he said.
Cobb, on the disabled list since April 13, said it's "kind of flown by for me."
IN LIMBO: Maddon said they felt they could utilize OF Kevin Kiermaier more than an extra reliever Tuesday. But when Cobb gets activated Thursday, it's likely Kiermaier will be sent down to make room. The Rays could also decide to option struggling INF Logan Forsythe or designate OF Brandon Guyer, but Maddon reiterated his faith in both of them Tuesday.
IN THE SWING: Both 3B Evan Longoria and RF Wil Myers spent time doing early onfield work with hitting coach Derek Shelton before Tuesday's game. Myers, who hit off a tee, wouldn't get specific but said he noticed something on video he did last season that he wasn't doing this year, so he wanted to work on it. "It looks small but it's kind of a major thing," Myers said.
Myers, the reigning AL rookie of the year, entered Tuesday hitting .243 with zero homers and two RBIs in his previous 13 games. But Myers dismissed the sophomore slump idea.
"That's the thing about last year, I wasn't missing my pitch for most of the year, and I've missed it a lot this last road trip," Myers said. "Everybody says, 'Well, the reason why you're struggling 'cause it's your second year.' But I struggled last year, I feel like a lot of people forget that I struggled in August last year, it's one of those things. They're throwing me some breaking balls, but I'm swinging at breaking balls in the dirt right now.
"It's not the pitching. I think even if I was in High A right now I'd be struggling, it's more of a mental thing. So get it turned it around as soon as possible."
CENTER STAGE: CF Desmond Jennings was reinstated from the bereavement list and back in the lineup Tuesday after missing two games.