Notebook: Alex Cobb frustrated by oblique setback

Alex Cobb is sidelined with a left oblique strain.

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb worked through a two-month rehab last summer in recovering from a mild concussion. He faces a similar absence in healing from a left oblique strain, and that frustrates him.

"It has definitely been a struggle to compare the two," Cobb said.

The Tampa Bay Rays right-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 13 with the strain. Cobb said he’s receiving treatment and will progress to rotational work Tuesday. If all goes well, he could start throwing six or seven days afterward.

Cobb’s frustration is understood. He entered the season as the Rays’ No. 2 starter, behind ace left-hander David Price. After a rocky five-inning outing against the Toronto Blue Jays in his first start April 1, he allowed no runs and a combined seven hits in seven-inning appearances against the Texas Rangers on April 6 and Cincinnati Reds on April 12.

"It’s such a lengthy rehab process," Cobb said. "And if you really think about it, the healing process itself is probably not that long. If I was a position player or a bullpen guy, I’d be able to let this heal — build up one or two innings in three or four days and come back and play. But I’m going to have to start all over. I have to throw bullpens, live BP, maybe one or two, maybe three, rehab starts. That’s the really frustrating part."

Cobb described the situation as a "perfect storm" of factors that led to his injury. He said he learned from conversations with Ron Porterfield, the Rays’ head athletic trainer, that there’s no one thing he could have done to prevent the strain.

"Just talking to Ron, it’s just a few things that led to it — that perfect storm just kind of happened," Cobb said. "There’s no rhyme or reason to it. There’s no one thing that we can say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to fix this to make it not happen again.’"

Cobb is one of three Rays rotation members on the DL, joining right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (arthroscopic right elbow surgery) and left-hander Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery). He said the additions of left-handers Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard as starters could pay dividends later.

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"I think, in hindsight, it’s going to be huge for us as a team for the younger guys and guys who haven’t got a lot of opportunities to start in this league," Cobb said. "It’s going to be huge for their growth and for us as a team. Having them go through this growing process, come August and September and, hopefully, in October, it will be extremely beneficial to us."


Hellickson started feeling sore after tossing about 10-15 curveballs on the Rays’ recent trip to Kansas City from April 7-9. He took about a week off from throwing, but he said the pain only lasted a few days. Since, he said he has felt fine playing catch.

Hellickson is rehabbing from his elbow surgery, which took place Jan. 29. He said he threw from 90 feet Sunday. He still anticipates an early June return.

"Everyone says to expect at least one setback," Hellickson said. "Hopefully, this was it. I don’t even look at it as a setback. Like I said, I felt fine just playing catch. I didn’t respond to the curveball like I wanted. I just took a few extra days off."


Outfielder Desmond Jennings said he’s improving from a groin injury that has limited him to a bench role in recent days. Jennings sustained the injury in the first inning of a loss to the Baltimore Orioles last Monday at Camden Yards.

Jennings, who’s hitting .264 with one home run and five RBI this season, planned to test his groin by running Sunday. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup when the Rays begin a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

"It’s good," Jennings said. "It’s a lot better from that day. It’s getting better every day."

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Left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser was living a buzz after making his major-league debut Saturday night in a 16-1 victory over the New York Yankees.

The 24-year-old received the promotion from Triple-A Durham early Saturday morning, after right-hander Brad Boxberger was optioned to Durham. Riefenhauser, who rooted for the Yankees as a boy, allowed no runs and no hits in 1 1/3 innings against New York.

He said he received 114 congratulatory text messages. But the best "message" might have been a video. He said he received a clip from friends at a bar watching the game in his native Mahopac, N.Y., where all the patrons erupted when he entered in the seventh inning.

"It was definitely easier than the night before," Riefenhauser said of falling asleep. "But I was looking at the ceiling just trying to replay everything over and over again. Like I said, couldn’t write it up any better."


The Yankees’ pitching woes in their loss Saturday allowed for an interesting situation to unfold in the eighth inning. Shortstop Dean Anna was tapped to pitch after his manager, Joe Girardi, exhausted all options for the night.

Anna entertained with "fastballs" that were clocked at 72 mph and slower while allowing two runs and three hits in the inning. Price was asked his opinion of Anna’s showing.

"What he did was extremely tough," said Price, who starts Tuesday. "To come in and to essentially lob the ball the way that he did and still be able to throw strikes like that, I don’t know how many pitchers would be able to do that. It’s tough."

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