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Tampa Bay Rays rookie Alex Cobb heads to DL with mystery hand ailment

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays don't know what is causing numbness in RHP Alex Cobb's right hand and an overall "dead-arm" feeling, and the impressive rookie won't get back on the mound until they do or the symptoms subside.

Cobb was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, forcing the Rays to revert to a five-man rotation sooner than planned, with LHP Cesar Ramos recalled from Triple-A Durham to restore the bullpen to full strength.

Cobb said Sunday that his arm hadn't felt right in the two-three days leading up to Saturday's start, but he didn't make much mention of it until after the game. He ended up at St. Anthony's Hospital, where tests by Drs. Koco Eaton and Mike Reilly ruled out anything life-threatening such as a blood clot but didn't reveal a cause.

"My arm is not normal, there's obviously something wrong that the tests didn't show," Cobb said. "There's different things that they're looking for that only time's going to tell. A few days off here, and if it goes away, then it's something minor like inflammation or something. If it continues, then we'll have to look further into it."

Manager Joe Maddon said Cobb, 23, will be shut down "until we feel very comfortable that he's okay," but they "don't anticipate anything negative long term" and "absolutely" expect him to pitch again this season.

Maddon also expressed concern that Cobb didn't tell them about his condition before taking the mound. There apparently was ample time, as Cobb, who pitched July 30 in Seattle without incident, said his arm first started "feeling a little weird" when the Rays got home: "Since that off day (Aug. 1), I'd been noticing something was not right."

Specifically, Cobb said he doesn't "have a feel for the ball in my hand," but also that "it goes up my whole arm, it's not just the fingers. It almost feels like a dead arm kind of deal, something along those lines."

Though relieved the tests showed it was nothing serious, Cobb was also frustrated. "I almost wanted them to find something just so we knew what it was and get it over with and do the proper treatment for it," he said.

PITCHING IN: The Rays had hoped to stay with their six-man rotation at least through the Aug. 16 day-night doubleheader in Boston. But with Cobb out they'll switch back to five, Maddon said, then likely summon a starter from Triple A at that time. The byproduct is that they'll go back to using rookie RHP Jeremy Hellickson on a regular basis and decide later how best to keep his innings limited. He could be shut down early if they aren't back in the postseason race.

CATCHING ON: C John Jaso, on the DL since the All-Star break with an oblique strain, is headed to Durham on a rehab assignment that is currently mapped out for at least two weeks. … C Jose Lobaton (left knee sprain) may soon join him but is not ready for full workouts.

NO JAKING: LHP Jake McGee relishes the chance to pitch in tight situations, but it didn't turn out well Sunday as he gave up the winning homer to Josh Willingham to open the 10th.

McGee threw five fastballs, all between 94-96 mph, to get the count full, but when he threw a sixth (at 95 according to mlb.com data), Willingham was ready and knocked it into the leftfield seats.

"That was a tough one," McGee said. "I threw a lot of fastballs and he got me on the last one. I wanted to go in off the plate, and I kind of left it over the plate."

MISCELLANY: Since reaching base in seven consecutive plate appearances, CF B.J. Upton is 0-for-9. … The Rays lost the season series to Oakland 5-2. … Senior broadcasting director Larry McCabe confirmed that pre- and postgame radio host Rich Herrera will return to the air Friday; Durham's Neil Solondz fills in starting tonight.

Tampa Bay Rays rookie Alex Cobb heads to DL with mystery hand ailment 08/07/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 7, 2011 10:17pm]
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