5/7/2014 1:15 A.M. ET
Cobb nears return with strong bullpen session
By Jim Hawkins / Special to MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- After personally monitoring Alex Cobb's bullpen session prior to Tuesday night's game against the Orioles, manager Joe Maddon predicted "if there are no setbacks," Cobb could return by the end of the month.
"That was pretty impressive," Maddon said after the workout. "Cobber is feeling really good. He had really good stuff. He's not far off."
Maddon said the next step for Cobb, who has been on the disabled list with a strained left oblique since April 13, may be to throw a situational bullpen "in a couple of days."
With Matt Moore out for the year following Tommy John surgery, and Jeremy Hellickson still recovering from offseason elbow surgery, the Rays will welcome the return of the 26-year-old Cobb.
On April 12, the Rays pitchers boasted a 2.55 ERA -- fourth-best in baseball -- and the starting rotation had an ERA of 2.77. Up to that point, the starting pitchers had absorbed 70.4 percent of the team's innings.
Since April 13, the pitchers combined for an ERA of 5.34 and the Rays' starting rotation had an ERA of 5.68 entering Tuesday -- both numbers the highest in Major League Baseball. Since Cobb went down with that injury, the starters have absorbed only 55.2 percent of the Rays' innings.
Moore happy to be back among Rays mates
ST. PETERSBURG -- With his surgically-repaired left elbow supported by a shoulder-to-wrist brace and his season over, Matt Moore will spend the summer focusing on the things he can do rather than on the things he can't.
"It'll be good to be in the dugout and cheer for somebody instead of looking at the TV screen," said Moore, who was happy to be reunited with his Rays teammates on Tuesday night.
"It feels like the guys haven't been here for a month."
Moore did not accompany the Rays on their recent 10-day road trip.
Instead of thinking about getting hitters out, Moore, who underwent Tommy John surgery, is now pondering questions such as: "When can I start sweating? When can I get my heart rate up?
"I want to get out there, but the reality is, I can't get out there," he said. "As I understand it, there's a four-to-five month waiting period where I can't do any throwing. I've got to try to find other things to take up most of my day. I've been trying to go for an hour to an hour-and-a-half walk every night."
"You have to commit your body to getting healthy at its own pace," said manager Joe Maddon. "It's got to be difficult to give up your occupation for a full year. He's going to have down days, there's no doubt. But he's got a great attitude. And he's got a lot of support."
Moore said he has sought feedback from teammates Jake McGee and Grant Balfour, both of whom underwent Tommy John surgery and returned to pitch again.
Hellickson positive following throwing session
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jeremy Hellickson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow prior to Spring Training, threw his third bullpen session on Tuesday and declared his elbow "felt great."
"I'm taking it one day, one bullpen at a time," said Hellickson, who plans to throw another bullpen on Wednesday.
"I think tomorrow might be my last bullpen. I'll see how I feel on Wednesday and we'll go from there."
If all goes well, Hellickson could be back in the starting rotation by July, if not before then.
"It's hard to say," the 26-year-old right-hander said. "I don't know what the next step will be. I just keep rehabbing and keep treating it."
Hellickson struggled last season, going 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA.
Boxberger recalled for fourth stint with Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-hander Brad Boxberger was back with the Rays on Tuesday -- for the fourth time this season -- after being recalled from Triple-A Durham.
Boxberger replaces Nathan Karns, who was optioned to Durham. Karns was summoned from Triple-A for bullpen insurance when veteran Heath Bell was designated for assignment prior to Sunday's 5-1 win over the Yankees.
"It's been a whirlwind month, going up and down," Boxberger said. "I've picked up a lot of frequent flyer miles. Hopefully this the end of that."
Boxberger, who was acquired from the Padres along with infielder Logan Forsythe in the Jan. 22 trade involving left-handed pitcher Alex Torres, said he doesn't know what his role will be.
"It's kind of up in the air," he said. "Anything, anytime, anywhere."
Rays manager Joe Maddon also declined to say exactly what Boxberger's role will be.
"He's very capable of being up here, he's definitely a Major League pitcher," Maddon said. "I won't hesitate to use him."
Entering Tuesday, Boxberger had allowed two hits and five walks to go with seven strikeouts in six scoreless innings over four games with the Rays.
Boxberger fired 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Chris Archer, who exited after five innings in Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Orioles.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.