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Cobb's goal: Regain feel for his pitches

Rays righty allows one run over three innings in second spring start
MLB.com @wwchastain

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Alex Cobb continues to look for the feel.

In Sunday afternoon's 5-3 victory at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, the Rays' right-hander faced the Blue Jays in his second start of the spring -- a.k.a., the spring after rehab.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Alex Cobb continues to look for the feel.

In Sunday afternoon's 5-3 victory at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, the Rays' right-hander faced the Blue Jays in his second start of the spring -- a.k.a., the spring after rehab.

Cobb returned from Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2016 season after missing all of '15. He went 1-2 with an 8.59 ERA in five starts, moving through phases of having the necessary feel to be a successful Major League pitcher.

After a regular offseason, which didn't include rehab, he arrived to Port Charlotte ready to think about pitching, and not whether his elbow could withstand the rigors of pitching. But finding the feel doesn't come easy.

On Sunday, Cobb allowed a run on three hits and struck out a batter in three innings. Of the 37 pitches he threw, 23 went for strikes.

Video: TB@TOR: Cobb strikes out Tellez looking in the 2nd

"The feel kind of took a little step back today because I'm working on something else that will hopefully make the feel better down the road," Cobb said. "I got the end goal in mind, and mechanically speaking, trying to get to that point where it's second nature."

Cobb noted that reaching that goal is "still a work in progress."

"I don't know how much of that is the Tommy John rehab, getting back from that, vs. your typical Spring Training getting muscle memory back and repeatability of pitches back," Cobb said. "That's basically where I'm trying to get to right now with my process of getting ready for the season. It's definitely getting closer, but it's going to feel a little weird before it gets feeling good."

Cobb looked at ease when he told reporters he feels confident he's going to get where he needs to with his pitching.

"It makes it easier when you know the direction you're heading," Cobb said. "Before, it was just trying to compete with whatever I had. Now it's working on the process that made me the pitcher I was before, and I know what that is.

"Getting there, breaking old habits and making it repeatable is a little bit of a different story. But as long as you know what the goal is, it's easier to beat."

As for what he was trying on Sunday, Cobb wouldn't totally reveal what he's working on, calling it "inside info." However, he said, "It's something that gets me in a more consistent power position at my balance point."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Alex Cobb