Alex Cobb throws in bullpen, still dealing with vertigo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Good news for Alex Cobb and the Tampa Bay Rays came Friday: More progress for the pitcher was made.

Cobb, a Rays right-hander, threw his first bullpen session since he was placed on the concussion disabled list June 16 with a mild concussion after a line drive off the bat of the Kansas City Royals’ Eric Hosmer struck him on the right ear June 15.

Cobb described the 29-pitch session before a game between the Rays and Chicago White Sox as “normal” and added “everything was like it was before. The arm felt a little more fresh.”

“What we’re doing right now is keeping my physical conditions up to par with game activities,” Cobb said. “I’m building up to that right now. Once the other conditions go away, I’ll be able to jump right back in. It’s hard to say when those things are going to go away. We’re doing a lot of different things trying to get it rolling in the right direction. We’re on the right path. I just can’t say a certain date or week or anything along those lines (for a return).”

Cobb said he is still dealing with vertigo, calling it “about the same” when asked how the condition compared to a week ago. He was seen throwing catch with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield for the first time last Friday. Porterfield, pitching coach Jim Hickey, left-hander Matt Moore and right-handers Chris Archer and Jeremy Hellickson were seen near the bullpen to observe the session Friday.

“The arm isn’t the issue here,” Cobb said. “It’s the other things going on. It was good to be able to get the heart rate up and the physical activities going and it not be an issue.”

Cobb said he passed an initial set of concussion tests, but he anticipates there will be more. He said his arm feels like it did before the injury, and that the vertigo only occurs on occasion when he tilts his head a certain way.  

A timetable for Cobb’s return is unknown, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said the pitcher’s progress encourages him. Cobb is 6-2 with a 3.01 ERA in 13 starts this season.

“I haven’t heard the report about that yet,” Maddon said of the bullpen session. “But I guess everything has been going really well, and Ronnie (Porterfield) will tell me more about it. Of course, any time he is making some progress, that’s great. I’ve heard from Ronnie and the docs that they’re all very encouraged. But there’s no specific (timetable).”

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