Rays Roundup: Cobb Relaxed Going Into Fenway

Alex Cobb makes his first start at Fenway Friday.

In this edition of Rays Roundup: Alex Cobb is trying not to make too much of first Fenway start, batting lead-off has sparked Carlos Pena at the plate, Sam Fuld is on schedule in his recovery from wrist surgery and Desmond Jennings expects to head out on a rehab assignment soon. All of that and more inside.

INSIDE PITCH

Cobb will try not to make too much of first start at Fenway

Rays' right-hander Alex Cobb has been around enough to know that starting in Fenway Park against the Red Sox is a little bit different.

But it's because of his experience that the 24-year-old won't get too worked up about Friday's assignment.

The Rays summoned Cobb from Class AAA last week to take the place of injured right-hander Jeff Niemann, and he made an impressive 2012 debut, pitching seven strong innings in the win over the Braves.

The key, he said, was acting like he had been there before.

"There's wasn't that adrenaline rush that I had in previous call-ups," Cobb said. "It was more just a normal, routine day."

The Rays expected Cobb to be calm, based on his solid work last season, when he stepped into the rotation as a rookie and went 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in nine starts over two stints before his season came to a sudden end in August, when he underwent surgery to remove a blood blot and part of a rib.


NOTES, QUOTES

Batting in leadoff spot gives Pena bit of a lift

--1B Carlos Pena has adjusted well thus far to the leadoff spot, going 3-for-8, plus reaching on two walk and a hit by pitch, in the two games on top. He was 0-for-17 going into Tuesday's game, and said he has enjoyed the different perspective the short-term shift has afforded.

--LHP John Gaub was lost on waivers to the Rangers. The Rays, who had claimed Gaub off waivers April 5 from the Cubs, designated him for assignment on Monday when they had to make room on the 40-man roster for INF Drew Sutton. Gaub was pitching middle relief at Class AAA Durham, going 0-1, 4.32 with one save in 16 2/3 innings over 16 games.

--1B Carlos Pena is the third middle-of-the-order type hitter manager Joe Maddon has moved to the leadoff spot in the last two seasons in an effort to shake them out of slumps, following 3B Evan Longoria and OF Matt Joyce. In all three cases, the player hit a home run in his first game at the top. Collectively, the three have hit .481 (13-for-27) in their seven games as leading men, with four home runs, six RBI and seven walks.

--CF B.J. Upton said the Rays have adopted a simple motto in dealing with the extensive run of injuries that have resulted in 10 players going on the disabled list. "The phrase we've been using is 'tread water,'" Upton said. "You see a lot of other teams around the league that are healthy and we aren't, but at the same time we find a way to get it done. And that's what it's about."

--OF Sam Fuld said his recovery from right wrist surgery is going well following a check-up this week, and he should be able to start swinging a bat by mid-June and could be ahead of schedule for his planned mid-August return. "It might be a little bit sooner now," Fuld said. "Not surprisingly, the biggest test is going to come when I actually start hitting. It's easy for me to set a target date now, but I haven't touched a bat yet."

--OF Desmond Jennings said his left knee sprain has improved and he expects to head out soon on a minor league rehab assignment, with the plan of returning to the lineup sometime next week. Jennings is eligible to be reinstated on Sunday, but said he won't be ready then. He will wear a brace on his knee when he returns.

--OF/DH Hideki Matsui appears likely to remain at Class AAA Durham for at least a few more days, even though there was talk that he could be called up for the weekend series in Boston. But Matsui does not look ready, hitting .133 (4-for-30) with only a .156 on-base percentage, in eight games for Class AAA Durham.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14 -- Consecutive saves to start the season for Rays RHP Fernando Rodney, two shy of team record shared by RHPs Al Reyes (2007) and Rafael Soriano (2010).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We are funky, and funky's cool. Funky's always been cool since the middle of the '70s. I've always liked funky." -- Manager Joe Maddon.

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