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Tampa Bay Rays: Cobb Set to Return Next Weekend

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The journey of rehabilitation following Tommy John surgery  is coming to a close as the Tampa Bay Rays appear ready to active their former ace back into the fold.

The long awaited journey back to the Tampa Bay Rays rotation is in clear sight following Tommy John surgery and months of rehabilitation for right-hander Alex Cobb.

Cobb has made seven rehab starts since returning from a brief setback that was unrelated to the surgery but to fatigue and mechanics.

He is scheduled to make one more start for Triple-A Durham on Saturday, which is the 30th and final day of his rehab assignment.

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With that happening, the Tampa Bay Rays could activate him on Sept. 2 or 3 per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times and he could then be in line to pitch over the weekend against the Boston Red Sox.

His rehab statistics have not been overpowering by any means, but just the fact that he’s healthy and pain free is what’s important right now for the Tampa Bay Rays.

In seven rehab starts between Triple-A Durham and A-Charlotte Stone Crabs Cobb’s lines are totally uncharacteristic (0-3, 7.64 ERA, 17.2-IP, 17-R, 15-ER, .347-OBA) for Cobb, but not necessarily for someone returning from Tommy John surgery.

"“I’m so relieved just to be healthy and just go out there and get my feet wet, and getting an offseason under my belt and getting ready for next year,” Cobb said."

Joining the Tampa Bay Rays rotation for the final four weeks of the season could very well be a strong indication as to what the 2017 season could mean not only for him but for manager Kevin Cash and the organization.

Cobb was set to be the opening day starter in 2015, but in a spring training start on March 17, Cobb removed himself after three innings with discomfort.

At the time Cobb said that he had felt some tightness leading up to his start, but that he didn’t consider it anything more than spring soreness.

He was comfortable with making the start in order to stay on track for his opening day start on April 6 (2015).

However, after the three innings the pain was excruciating so much so that he had no choice but to take himself out of the game telling the coaches that he would be unable to continue.

The initial diagnosis was right forearm tendinitis but after suffering a setback while rehabbing the Tampa Bay Rays sent him for an MRI.

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The MRI showed that the tendinitis was actually concealing the elbow injury believed to be a partial tear.

However, further tests showed that it wasn’t a partial tear, but a full tear of the ulnar collateral ligament which would require Tommy John surgery.

The Tampa Bay Rays will be extremely cautious with Cobb’s return to the rotation and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they ease him back into it.

There is no rush to join the rotation, but adding him even if for four-five innings or with a pitch-count is a plus.

In addition to Cobb’s return, Chase Whitley is also on target for a return from his rehabbing assignment also from Tommy John surgery.

With Cobb and Whitley back in the fold, Cash is considering going to a six-man rotation.

Doing such would give the Rays more options allowing them to limit the innings with rookie Blake Snell.

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At the same time, it could cut down the innings for the rest of the starters.

Matt Andriese who has returned to the rotation and is still being stretched out as a starter, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer could all see less action.

With the rosters expanding come Sept. 1, the six-man rotation could mean that the Tampa Bay Rays may decide on not adding a starter.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Archer Nearing Astonishing Loss Record

That would mean that pitchers Tyler Guerrieri, Jacob Faria or Brent Honeywell currently on Triple-A Durham’s roster may not get their cup of coffee to the big show.

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