ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Joyce received a little bit of a surprise when he arrived to the ballpark.
Manager Joe Maddon slotted Joyce in the leadoff spot for Wednesday's game against the Royals -- an unfamiliar role for the All-Star.
"I don't remember the last time I hit leadoff," Joyce said. "I'm pretty sure I haven't done it in the last couple of years. It's just one of those things that Joe has a feeling with, and I guess that's what makes him one of the best managers in the game. A lot of times he'll go off his instinct, what he feels and what he knows."
Joyce went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a solo homer in the Rays' thrilling 8-7 victory after a five-run ninth inning.
Tampa Bay's regular leadoff hitter, Desmond Jennings, was not in the starting lineup but delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth. Maddon expects the rookie, who has played in every game since being recalled from Triple-A Durham on July 23, to return to the starting lineup on Thursday.
"I just wanted to give Desmond a day off, period," Maddon said. "Playing on the turf, I think it's starting to affect his legs a little bit."
In steps Joyce, who will provide a little power at the top of the order with his 15 homers. But he has been scuffling a bit lately with just seven hits in his past 31 at-bats.
Maddon made a similar move to this one earlier in the season, when he placed a slumping Evan Longoria in the leadoff spot.
"I thought this was the perfect chance to throw Matt up there to work the same kind of at-bats that we asked Longoria to work," Maddon said.
Cobb set to undergo surgery on injured rib
ST. PETERSBURG -- On Wednesday, the Rays announced that pitcher Alex Cobb will undergo surgery to remove a blockage in the area of his first right rib on Friday.
The 23-year-old complained of discomfort in his right hand following his most recent start Saturday. Later that night, he was taken to a local hospital to check if a blood clot was the reason for the problem. Cobb was then placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.
"I'm relieved to know what it is and that it isn't career threatening in any sort of way," Cobb said before Wednesday's game against the Royals. It's also good to know that I am in the hands of a specialist who has been down this road before and can treat it properly. I'm ready to get this part over and get on with [Rays head athletic trainer] Ron [Porterfield's] rehab program."
The surgery will be performed at the Baylor Medical Center in Dallas and the recovery time is expected to be 10-12 weeks.
Once that time passes, Cobb is expected to assume his normal winter throwing routine and be completely recovered by the start of Spring Training.
Before the injury, the rookie posted a 3-2 record and a 3.42 ERA in nine starts for the Rays.
"It's a tough one," manager Joe Maddon said. "But from what I understand, it's not going to be a long-term serious kind of a thing. He's going to be fine. We're just happy that we caught it at this particular moment."
Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.