Rays' Cobb Excited To Be In Big League Camp





PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. — Before this spring, the closest Alex Cobb came to major league hitters was picking up their bats during three springs he worked at the Dodgers' spring training camp in Vero Beach, Fla.

Now he gets to see them from the mound, as one of the talented young Rays pitchers added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, and he has been getting to pitch in front of his future bosses.

"It's a lot of fun," Cobb said. "You know they get the scouting reports on you and stuff, but when you go out and pitch in front of them, they actually get to see firsthand what you can do. If you throw well, it's exciting."

Cobb, 23, got off to a good start, with a strong performance in the Feb. 25 intrasquad game, "He had a very calm demeanor about him," manager Joe Maddon said. "I kind of liked it."

Cobb, a fourth-round draft pick in 2006 out of Vero Beach High, is likely headed to Triple-A Durham this season after going 7-5, 2.71 in 23 games (22 starts) for Double-A Montgomery last season.

He'll take with him not only the experience of pitching to big league hitters, but also the knowledge and information he picked up from talking to major league pitchers.

"Anybody that'll talk to me I'll talk to," he said. "All the guys have been real approachable and they'll talk about anything you want to talk about."
James Shields, for example, gave him a tutorial about the need to come to the field early and spend extra time working out.

Cobb said the spring already was a success.

"You're a small fish in the pond, you want to catch the attention of the guys higher up and show them you belong here so eventually if they need you they can count on you," Cobb said.

COOL RAYS

• Shortstop Tim Beckham has been dropped from many prospect lists, but manager Joe Maddon said: "I really have a lot of faith this guy is going to be a very good major league player.

• Righthander Albert Suarez, another young pitcher added to the 40-man roster, was to miss two to three weeks of spring training after undergoing exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He bruised the knee when he was hit by a ball during batting practice.