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More bad news for Rays: Cobb on DL with oblique strain

UPDATE, 5:52: The MRI indeed showed an oblique strain, and while Rays manager Joe Maddon did not issue a timetable, those type of injuries are likely to sideline a pitcher for four-six weeks at the minimum.

UPDATE, 12:03: Rays manager Joe Maddon said the hope is that Cobb will miss only two starts and be able to return when eligible, on April 28, or shortly thereafter.

Maddon said he noticed Cobb stretching from the start of the game but thought it was a cramp or soemthing and was surprised thatthe situation was deemed that serious given how well he pitched. "It was really confusing,'' he said.

The Rays could have sent Cobb for the MRI first, but Maddon said they felt he was going to have to miss at least one start even if it was mild, and they needed the bullpen help. That's because they are using long reliever Cesar Ramos to start today - unsure how deep into the game he can go - are likely without Joel Peralta, who is ill, and are not sure if Grant Balfour is available today.

DEVELOPING: The Rays sustained another blow to their rotation with news Sunday that RHP Alex Cobb was placed on the DL with a left oblique strain.

Reliever Jeff Beliveau, who was with the team briefly last week, was called up to rejoin them today, and the Rays will need a starter for Thursday's game against the Yankees, with veteran Erik Bedard, who was called up to replace Cesar Ramos in the bullpen, now the likely candidate.

Cobb was sent back to St. Petersburg to undergo an MRI. As he was leaving Great American Ballpark on Sunday, he said it was "precautionary'' but he still will miss at least two weeks.

Cobb was seen stretching his side several times during his Saturday start, and though manager Joe Maddon said he removed hin for strategic reasons, he also said he saw Cobb stretching and didn't want him to hit again. Asked about it after the game, Cobb said there was some tightness but he didn't consider it a big deal.

Rays starter Chris Archer suggested that it was the activities related to interleague play (hitting and running the bases) that led to Cobb's injury. "It's saddening,'' Archer said.

Cobb is the second starter to be injured since the start of the season, joining LHP Matt Moore. RHP Jeremy Hellickson is also on the DL. And RHP Alex Colome is suspended until late May for a failed drug test.

If Bedard gets the Thursday start, then all three pitchers who competed for the No. 5 spot in the rotation will be in it - Bedard, Ramos and Jake Odorizzi.