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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb feels good in return to mound

PORT CHARLOTTE — RHP Alex Cobb wasn't pleased with the results Monday, loading the bases and walking in a run in the 3-1 loss to Baltimore. But his success was just making it to the mound.

Cobb, 24, made his first exhibition appearance — 199 days after surgery to remove a blood clot and part of a rib — as if nothing had ever gone wrong.

"Going into my first outing of spring training I wanted to not feel anything," he said. "Whether I pitched good or bad, I didn't want it to have to do with my physical ability, and everything I was looking for, strength and pain, was all normal."

Cobb said the only issues were more mental, such as making adjustments under game conditions: "It just felt weird being out there a little bit."

Manager Joe Maddon said his only concern was how Cobb felt, and he liked what he saw and heard. "It's a great moment for him," Maddon said.

Given the Rays' abundance of starters, Cobb seems likely headed back to Triple-A Durham to start the season.

LONGO DELAYED, PEñA SET: 3B Evan Longoria needed only a few swings — without a ball involved — to know his bruised right hand wasn't ready and shut down his workout.

Longoria, who had hoped to play today, said he'll need another "day or so." Given that he'll need to progress through hitting off a tee, flipped balls and on-field batting practice, Thursday would seem more likely.

"Just sore," Maddon said. "There's nothing really horribly wrong."

There is still some discoloration, and the Rays are concerned that if he adjusts his swing to compensate for the bruise, stemming from being hit by a pitch March 1, he could have further problems.

1B Carlos Peña is set to make his first appearance today after taking "live" batting practice off RHPs Kyle Farnsworth and Brandon Gomes. OF Sam Fuld (right wrist inflammation) and DH Luke Scott (right shoulder surgery) also took part and said they are planning to start playing by the end of the week.

LHP Matt Moore said he felt "really good" in throwing another bullpen session and is set for the first of two batting practices Thursday, with his first game around March 13.

WADING IN: Maddon said RHP Wade Davis was "really sharp" in his first outing, and Davis also was pleased after allowing one hit over two innings, throwing 28 pitches (20 strikes). "I thought it was good," Davis said. "I stayed under control, threw all my pitches, threw everything for strikes. I still have to get better at some things, but I thought it was a good first day."

GAME DETAILS: The Rays lost their third straight, held to one hit through eight innings (Ben Zobrist's first-inning double) and three overall. … SS Reid Brignac booted a bouncing ball that could have been a double play in the first. … Veteran INF Jeff Keppinger made the first of several appearances at first as the Rays want him comfortable for occasional duty.

SCREEN SHOT: O's manager Buck Showalter said the screens on the field being too short contributed to minor-leaguer Travis Adair being hit in the head by a line drive during batting practice.

MISCELLANY: The Rays added a 2011 AL wild-card banner on the wall beyond rightfield at the Charlotte Sports Park. They'll hang one at the Trop as well. … Today's game is on MLB Network. … Attendance was just 3,720. … Today marks the 25th anniversary of the first game at the Charlotte Sports Park, host Texas beating Detroit on March 6, 1987.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb feels good in return to mound 03/05/12 [Last modified: Monday, March 5, 2012 11:15pm]

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