ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Alex Cobb pitched a three-inning simulated game Friday and said he wasn’t concerned at all with his left oblique, which he strained April 12 while pitching in Cincinnati.
How he feels today will determine if Friday’s session was a success. Cobb believes he will feel fine.
“(Today) is a huge factor in our next step,” Cobb said.
That next step is expected to be a four-inning or 60-pitch sim game Monday in Port Charlotte. Cobb said it’s possible he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment late next week.
“Everything is penciled in right now,” Cobb said. “Everything is going to be determined with how I feel the next day.”
Assuming his oblique continues to respond well to the workload, Cobb feels he will not need many rehab starts before he’s ready to rejoin the rotation.
“I don’t think I need any,” he said.
Cobb, who plans to return later this month, said he was throwing within two weeks of suffering the injury so he was able to maintain his arm strength. The rehab starts will build up his body so he can handle pitching five or more innings.
“It’s not late in regards to the amount of time he’s been down until now,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a whole long period of time between now and when you’re going to see him pitch in a game for us.”
Escobar leaves with injury
SS Yunel Escobar left Friday’s game after two innings because of a contusion on his right thumb.
The team said Escobar is day-to-day.
RHP Brad Boxberger said he never struck out three batters in one inning on nine pitches at any level before he did it during the sixth inning Thursday against the Orioles. That he entered the game with the bases loaded made it even more impressive.
“It was kind if surreal, I’d guess you’d say,” Boxberger said.
The Elias Sports Bureau could not find a record of another relief pitcher entering the game with the bases loaded and doing what Boxberger did, though their pitch count records are incomplete. What Elias did find was Toronto’s Jesse Carlson was the last pitcher to enter a bases-loaded, no-out situation and fan the next three, which Carlson did April 16, 2008, but not on nine pitches.
Cobb said he once fanned the side on 10 pitches.
“I always wanted to get that nine,” he said. “It’s the immaculate inning. It’s awesome.”
LHP Jake McGee said he once struck out the side on 11 pitches.
“It’s hard to do,” McGee said. “When you think about it, no two-strike foul balls, not one ball.”
Boxberger said he didn’t realize what he accomplished until he left the game an inning later.
“I thought it went quick,” he said, “but bases loaded kind of goes quick no matter what happens.”
Rest for Jennings
Maddon attended the Tampa Chamber of Commerce lunch Friday, and as is tradition, he let the members pick the night’s lineup.
Maddon gives them some guidelines, and one was he wanted CF Desmond Jennings to have the night off.
“The last couple of nights, he hasn’t been typical what we’re seeing, so why not be pro-active and get him down before he gets really tired and absolutely needs a day,” Maddon said.
Jennings was 1-for-15 in the three games against the Orioles.
The chamber voted for DH David DeJesus to bat lead off, and DeJesus had three hits, including two doubles, an RBI and a run scored in his first three at-bats.
Brandon Guyer, who also attended the luncheon, was voted to play center field.
“Brandon Guyer had a really loud table, so he’s in there,” Maddon said before the game.
Tonight’s game will be shown on Fox Sports 1. Brian Anderson will work the game with Justin Kutcher. ... The Rays entered Friday’s game an MLB-best 6-1 in one-run games.