Rays' Cobb experiments with cutter

Alex Cobb gave the Rays another strong start, allowing only one hit, walking none and striking out five.
Alex Cobb gave the Rays another strong start, allowing only one hit, walking none and striking out five.
Published Mar. 8, 2013

BRADENTON — RHP Alex Cobb had his curveball breaking, his changeup biting and his fastball moving in a four shutout-inning performance in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Pirates.

But with a place in the Rays rotation seemingly secured, the 25-year-old is looking to add to his arsenal and started experimenting with a cutter.

"I wanted something to go to the other side of the plate to lefties more consistently. And when I started throwing it, it was really good, and I saw it could be a strikeout pitch," Cobb said. "I'm really excited about it."

He threw it with mixed results Thursday, though he did get a swing-and-miss to strike out 1B Brad Hawpe.

"If I can get it to be consistent, I think it can be a really useful pitch for me," Cobb said.

Manager Joe Maddon sounded a little suspect, much like he was last year when he thought RHP Jeremy Hellickson started throwing his new pitch too much.

"The threat there is always that it can subtract from something else you do well," Maddon said.

And Cobb has been doing a lot well, allowing two hits while striking out 10 over seven innings in his past two outings.

ARCHED: RHP Chris Archer was disappointed in the "six-eight pitch mental lapse" that led to him walking two in the second of his three shutout innings but pleased how he worked out of it, retiring Pirates All-Star CF Andrew McCutchen for the final out.

"The most important part was damage control," Archer said. "(Pitching coach Jim) Hickey said it best. He said that was a good bad inning."

HAMSTRUNG: OF Sam Fuld is likely to be sidelined at least another week due to tightness in his right hamstring, but DH Luke Scott, who had tightness in his left hamstring, is expected back early next week, Maddon said.

Both have been sidelined since Sunday, and neither is hurt badly enough to impact availability for opening day.

"Sam's going to take a little bit longer," Maddon said. "(Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield) isn't classifying either one as a pull; more of a tightness situation. And with Sam, it's just a matter that Sam relies on his legs a lot for his living, so he wants to take a little bit more time and make sure."

INSIDE SCOOP: Maddon said everything went well with his colonoscopy on Wednesday and it was not bad at all, which is why he was so open about it in an effort to help others.

"I thought, 'You know what? This is something I had always been apprehensive about, and if you could ameliorate someone else's apprehension, that'd be kind of a nice thing to do,' " he said. "It was truly a very benign experience."

GAME DETAILS: Maddon raved pregame that nonroster INF Mike Fontenot hasn't had a bad at-bat. And he came through with several more, including a single ahead of INF Tim Beckham's two-run double in the seventh. … CF Desmond Jennings would have scored in the third but stopped on the bases after incorrectly thinking Hawpe snagged a Fontenot shot that went by him, which was scored an error. "Sometimes, I like it when our players think. Sometimes, I like it when they don't," Maddon said. … OF Wil Myers, who reached on an error to plate their first run, stayed in the game and said he was fine after later fouling a ball off his left ankle.

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MISCELLANY: C Chris Gimenez and his wife, Kellie, spent Wednesday at a Tampa medical center as their 15-month-old son, Jace, had hernia surgery. All went well. … Maddon, his coaches and several players will attend tonight's Rays BaseBALL Dinner & Auction in Punta Gorda, which benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County. For tickets, call (941) 979-8379.