Tampa Bay's rotation took another blow this week, as the team announced Sunday morning that Alex Cobb was headed to the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. Cobb, who threw seven scoreless innings against Cincinnati on Saturday night, experienced discomfort in his side during the start, and was scheduled for an MRI on Sunday to determine how long he would be out.
"We sent him back for an MRI hoping that it's going to be a minimum stay on the DL," Rays manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com. "We thought by doing it this way and not prolonging it, we have a better chance of getting him back on the 15th or 16th day after the start."
Despite going seven scoreless innings, Cobb was pulled after 87 pitches due to what Maddon and trainer Ronnie Porterfeld initially believed was dehydration, but later determined was an oblique strain. Cobb started the season by giving up four runs in five innings against Toronto, but had followed that up with 15 1/3 scoreless innings. Injuries have been a consistent source of frustration for Cobb, who missed two months last season after taking a line drive off the side of his head and was sidelined in 2011 by thoracic outlet syndrome.
Cobb's oblique strain comes on the heels of a potentially season-ending elbow injury to Matt Moore, leaving two sizable holes in the Rays' starting rotation. To replace Moore, the Rays moved Cesar Ramos from the bullpen to the rotation. To take Cobb's spot, Tampa will bring in veteran starter Erik Bedard, who lost the competition for the fifth starter's spot to Jake Odorizzi in spring training but hung around in Triple-A Durham.
The injury is bad timing for the suddenly short-handed Rays. Along with Cobb and Moore, right-hander Jeremy Hellickson remains on the shelf, likely until June, thanks to offseason elbow surgery. Tampa also lost reliever Alex Colome before the season to a 50-game PED suspension. There are some intriguing starting options in Triple-A, headlined by one of Tampa's top pitching prospect, Enny Romero, as well as offseason acquisition Nate Karns and Mike Montgomery, picked up from Kansas City in the James Shields trade. But all the options in Durham are on the young side, as the Rays lack veteran starting options in the minors. There's no timetable for Cobb's return, although oblique strains normally sideline pitchers for longer than two weeks. For now, the Rays will lean on Ramos and Bedard and hope for quick healing on Cobb's part.