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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Rays notes: Cobb returns after needed healing time

DETROIT - Alex Cobb returns to the mound today for the first time since May 26, when he went 8 1/3 innings against the Yankees. He developed a cut near the nail on his right middle finger and missed his last start.
“This was much needed,” Cobb said. “I wouldn't have been able to be effective Friday (his scheduled start date) if we didn't take this extra time. It was a smart move, and now I'm definitely ready to get back out there.”
Cobb played catch on Monday afternoon with LHP Matt Moore in a park next to the team hotel and said he was able to throw his off-speed pitches pain free for the first time since he developed the cut.
Cobb said it was just he, Moore and some people having lunch on a splendid early June day. They avoided one mishap when Cobb grabbed an errant throw by Moore that almost struck a man who was walking in the park.
“He thanked me for catching it, because it would have smoked him in the face,” Cobb said. “Behind him was a car, so it would have done some damage.”
Now, Cobb has to battle the effects of going 10 days between starts, something he's fought before when he's gone more than five days between starts.
“I've felt a little bit uncomfortable,” he said. “The plate feels far away, mechanics felt a little out of rhythm.”
How long does it take for him to feel like himself?
“I don't know. It's varied in the past,” Cobb said. “Some days it's been there right out of the gate. Some days it's been three, four innings. There's no telling. Hopefully the experiences in the past will help me (tonight).”
Cobb has gotten off to some slow starts even when pitching on normal rest. Returning after a long layoff and facing the Tigers' potent lineup could be a problem.
“Alex has always had that issue on occasion, so it could be exaggerated a bit here right now,” Maddon said. “I hope not.”
Joyce putting in work
As promised, Rays RF Matt Joyce reported for work early Tuesday and was in right field at Comerica Park working on his defense more than four hours before first pitch.
Joyce, who misplayed a pair of fly balls during the Cleveland series, said he has developed some bad habits while going after balls hit over his head or into the gap. So he asked coach George Hendrick to work with him before the start of batting practice.
“I just created a couple of bad habits to where the routes that I'm taking aren't what I should be taking, so for me it's just a matter of getting the reps in and feeling more comfortable,” he said.
Joyce said he has found himself taking more of a direct route on a ball hit over his head, “which puts you in a bad situation. Generally, in the outfield you want to take a deeper route to the ball and keep it on the side. You don't really want to get right under the ball because you get tangled up, but that's what's been happening.”
Manager Joe Maddon said Joyce was not asked to take the early work. Maddon also said he doesn't believe Joyce needed the work.
“He's in a little bit of a mental thing with his defense, and he's a real good defender. He's not OK, he's real good at it,” Maddon said. “I don't want him to over-think it and try new things, just chill out and play and trust your instincts.”
Joyce said he might report for early practice once or twice a week.
“For us, we take a lot of pride in our defense, and it's no different in the outfield,” Joyce said.
But Maddon, a proponent of less is sometimes more, doesn't think Joyce's defense has fallen to a level where he needs to spend extra time trying to make it better.
“I totally understand (Joyce's reasoning), but for me it's all about going out there trusting your instincts, permitting your natural reactions to take over and not be mechanical about it,” Maddon said.
With the works? In addition to playing cards, video games and ping-pong during Friday's rain delay in Cleveland, the Rays also had plenty of eat. When the $1 hot dogs were discounted to 50 cents, Maddon gave one of the clubbies $100 and told him to buy 200 dogs.
Noteworthy The Rays signed former Nationals C Jesus Flores to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Durham to add depth in the wake of the hand injury to C Chris Gimenez. … The Rays' rotation for this weekend's series against the visiting Orioles: RHP Chris Archer on Friday, RHP Jeremy Hellickson on Saturday and Moore on Sunday. … The error given to 3B Evan Longoria during the fifth inning Friday has been changed to an infield hit for Indians 3B Mark Reynolds. As a result, RHP Jamey Wright has been charged with two earned runs. … RHP Doug Fister, tonight's starter for the Tigers, and Cobb are ranked second and third, respectively, in the American League in ground ball/fly ball ratio. Fister has a 2.48 GB/FB ratio. Cobb's is 2.45. Detroit's Rick Porcello leads the AL with a 2.59 GB/FB ratio.
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