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Cobb uses day off to pitch simulated game

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays had their first off-day in 18 days on Monday, but Alex Cobb still went to work, pitching in a simulated game against Minor Leaguers at Charlotte Sports Park.

Cobb originally had been slated to head to Fort Myers, Fla., to pitch in a game against the Twins' Triple-A team, but Tampa Bay was apprehensive about the weather, so the club had him stay home and pitch in the simulated game.

To his credit, Rays ace David Price was on hand on his off-day to show Cobb support for two innings.

Cobb threw 86 pitches, got up and down between innings seven times, and he left the outing feeling good about what he accomplished.

"I was really concentrating on what I needed to accomplish in getting ready for the regular season, so it actually turned out to be a really good day," Cobb said. "I was able to feel some things mechanically that I was able to consistently repeat.

"The conditions weren't great. There was a lot of wind -- cross winds here and there. ... [But] all things considered, everything worked really well today."

Cobb said his next outing should be "seven or eight innings."

"I have to get to 105 pitches next outing," Cobb said. "And then I might scale it back a little after that. And then it's regular-season time."

Cobb's last two outings have been against Minor League competition, so he's looking forward to facing the Orioles in his next two starts, even though they are an American League East rival.

"It's going to be the Orioles both times out," Cobb said. "But I think I miss them early in the season, so it's not that big of a deal.

"I need to face some Major League teams in the next couple of outings. You can take what you want out of the Minor League starts, and it does prepare you to get your body going up and down seven times. But you need that competitiveness. The game within the game at the Major League level, where guys really have approaches and guys are playing chess out there ... you need that feeling, that mentality."

Juan Carlos Oviedo was on hand Monday as well and threw 10 minutes of live batting practice to Minor Leaguers. The Rays are hoping Oviedo can be ready for the start of the season despite his late arrival to camp due to visa issues.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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