ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jeremy Hellickson’s projected return from disabled list will be delayed by at least five days, since he will make at least one more rehab start for Triple-A Durham.
Hellickson (right elbow surgery) has not completed three innings in either of his starts with the Bulls. It was originally thought Hellickson would only need three rehab starts before rejoining the rotation — one at Single-A Charlotte and two with the Bulls.
In two starts with the Bulls, Hellickson has allowed 18 hits and 11 runs (seven earned) in five innings.
“For me, it’s just getting my work in, just come out feeling good the next day,” Hellickson said. “Obviously, it’s nice to execute and pitch well and not do what I’ve done. But at the same time, I feel fine, and that’s really all that matters to me right now.”
Hellickson’s fastball is up to 92 mph, a sign that his elbow is healthy. He’s also able to throw his curveball pain free, something he could not do early in the rehab process.
But Hellickson said he’s struggling with his command and would like to have that ironed out before he faces major-league hitters for the first time since Game 4 of last year’s AL division series.
“I don’t really have too much life at the end of (the fastball), that’s how I feel,” Hellickson said. “The (velocity’s) there, it just doesn’t have the extra life at the end, and the change-up isn’t very good either. That’s pretty much what I rely on, fastball location and the change-up. But I think the positive is my curveball feels really good.”
Hellickson said he wants to pitch at least four innings in his next start. He said he also needs to get batters out.
“This is one of the moments you have to be patient with a guy coming back from surgery,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Tough luck for Cobb
RHP Alex Cobb did not allow an earned run in his seven innings Wednesday. It was the fourth time in nine starts this season he did not allow an earned run.
It was his longest stint since he returned from the DL, and his 111 pitches were a season-high.
Maddon called it a “mortal sin” that the Rays wasted Cobb’s effort.
“Cobb was outstanding,” Maddon said.
Wednesday was the 11th time the Rays were shut out this season, most in the AL and tied with the Padres for most in the majors.
They’ve been shut out in four of their last 10 games and four of their last seven at Tropicana Field.
“It’s been happening way too often,” Maddon said.
The Rays were shut out only eight times last season.
2B Ben Zobrist committed his sixth error of the season Wednesday after making only five in 2013.
When asked afterward about his fielding, Zobrist said, “It’s just been OK, not great, and that’s pretty much kind of the way it’s been going for our whole team.”
“It’s very hard to imagine,” Maddon said. We’ve never seen him struggle. ... He’s going through a rough stretch right now.”
Zobrist, who has one hit in his past 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position, said the left thumb he dislocated May 14 is not an issue even though it still causes some pain.
“It’s going to be sore for a little while,” he said, “but it’s not something I’d say I think about out there.”
Bullpen catcher Scott Cursi’s streak of 2,326 games ended Wednesday because of jury duty. ... Before the game RHP Joel Peralta, LHP Cesar Ramos, RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, INF Sean Rodriguez, C Jose Molina and RHP Chris Archer visited with children from the Redlands Migrant Christian Association as part of The Players Trust Buses for Baseball Program, which provides K through 8th-grade education for low-income, Hispanic farm-working families in Wimauma. ... The Rays are 1-7 this season vs. the Orioles. ... Wednesday’s loss prevented the Rays from winning back-to-back series for only the second time this season. ... In their last four games, the Rays have loaded the bases with no outs twice and managed to score just one run.