PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays made their first cuts of the spring Monday, optioning Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Alex Torres to Minor League camp and reassigning Nevin Ashley, Juan Miranda, Ricky Orta and Mark Thomas to Minor League camp.
Of the group, Cobb was the biggest surprise.
Cobb made 12 starts with Triple-A Durham and nine for the Rays over three stints in 2011. Logging his first experience in the Majors, Cobb was impressive while notching a 3-2 record with a 3.42 ERA before his season was cut short in August due to thoracic outlet syndrome. On Aug. 18, season-ending surgery was performed to remove a blood clot and blockage in the area of Cobb's first right rib.
"I was a little bit surprised that it was this early, but after talking to them and what their plans are, and their reasoning behind it, it makes more sense to go down there, get my innings in, get stretched out a little bit. You know it's just a numbers game right now," Cobb said. "Just not enough innings to be passed around seven, eight, nine guys. It does make sense to go down there and work on some stuff and get my innings stretched out."
There is little doubt Cobb can pitch in the Major Leagues, and he would likely be in the rotation for many teams. Unfortunately for Cobb, he plays for the Rays, a team that has one of the deepest wells of starting pitchers.
"It's one of the things we talked about in the meeting," said Cobb of the knowledge that he could be pitching for a lot of teams. "It's frustrating. I [jokingly] told them it stinks being in this organization at this time.
"But if I wasn't in this organization, I wouldn't be the pitcher I am right now. I might not have even had the opportunity to be the pitcher I am, so it's Catch-22. If you want to be [upset] and focus on these few months not being in the big leagues, you can. But I just don't see the reason of being too upset about it right now."
Players, coaches to shave heads for charity
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays players continued to put their name on the signup sheet to have their heads shaved before Thursday's game. The sheering will take place to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital.
"I think we're going to have a pretty good turnout," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
The growing list contains the names of Brandon Gomes, Cesar Ramos, Sam Fuld, Wade Davis, Elliot Johnson, Alex Cobb, Matt Joyce and James Shields, to name a few. Coaches Dave Martinez and Tom Foley have also signed up.
Maddon hatched the idea for the fundraiser to raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer.
Those interested in contributing to the fundraiser can text the word "cut" to 50555 to make a $10 donation. Or you can visit http://www.pcfcutforacure.org.
When asked whom he most looked forward to seeing without hair, Maddon noted: "Me."
"Otherwise, [we have] young good-looking guys on the team, [getting their hair buzzed] doesn't matter," Maddon said. "It's like Demi Moore in 'G.I. Jane.' If you're good looking, you're good looking. For those of us who are not, we have something to be concerned with."
Zobrist makes first spring start in right field
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ben Zobrist made his first start of the spring in right field on Monday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he wanted to get Zobrist, who played right field in 33 games last season, some playing time at the position. Maddon said he will again utilize Zobrist's flexibility to bolster the lineup on any given night depending on the opposing pitcher. On Monday, Jeff Keppinger started at second base and Matt Joyce was the designated hitter.
"The triangle's there with Zo and Joyce and now Keppinger at second base," Maddon said. "That's who we are. That's how we're built. That's what we thought in the offseason. So it works. And then there may be the time you want to go differently and give [first baseman] Carlos [Pena] a day off. Put Keppinger at first and Zobrist at second, and maybe you want to play Matty against a lefty in right field that particular night. There's different ways to look at it, but that's how it's going to work on that side of the field."
Maddon said Zobrist, 30, is hardly slowing down.
"He played at a high level again last year," Zobrist said. "You watch him. The refreshing part about Zo is regardless of where you put him, he's fundamentally sound. He takes his craft seriously. He's got the best footwork among all of our outfielders regarding just throwing the baseball. ... He just does things properly all the time."
• Sean Rodriguez (sprained left index finger) remains out, but he expects to play Tuesday when the Rays play the Orioles in Sarasota. Rodriguez showed reporters on Monday how he can now bend the finger. "[The swelling] went down considerably," he said.
• Right-hander Ricky Orta is nursing a sore right shoulder. "He's been hurting a little bit," manager Joe Maddon said.
• Matt Joyce and Rodriguez will be special guests on Thursday's "Countdown to Opening Day" radio show on WDAE 620 AM. The show will be broadcast from the Wyvern Hotel in Punta Gorda from 7-8 p.m. ET. While there, Joyce and Rodriguez will also serve as guest bartenders to benefit the Charlotte County Family YMCA. The benefit begins at 6 p.m.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.