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Cobb's return in sight after bullpen session

SEATTLE -- Alex Cobb (left oblique strain) threw a bullpen on Wednesday after throwing 60 pitches in a simulated game on Monday.

He is expected to make a rehab start for one of the Rays' affiliates on Saturday, and if all goes well, expect to see Cobb on the mound May 22 against the A's at Tropicana Field.

When Cobb was sidelined on April 13, the Rays were 7-5. They have since gone 10-18 heading into Wednesday afternoon's action.

To say the Rays have missed Cobb would be a vast understatement.

"Cobber is pretty much a solid seven innings when he goes out there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And then you get the complementary benefits that occur. The fact that he's probably going to put you in a good position to win a game, use less relief pitchers. The attitude is better the next day because you won the night before. All the complementary effects can never be overlooked. There's no way to really evaluate that."

Matt Moore exited the starting rotation around the same time as Cobb, and he is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery. Joining the rotation in the pair's absence have been Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos.

Maddon would not take the pair to task for the starting staff's woes.

"I'm not going to lay this all on Erik and Cesar," Maddon said. "I think they've pitched very well."

At the outset of Spring Training, the Rays were seeking a fifth starter after Jeremy Hellickson had right elbow surgery. Jake Odorizzi won that job, Ramos went back to the bullpen and Bedard ended up at Triple-A Durham.

"You're trying to re-grow something in season," Maddon said. "You make your plans in the offseason. This is what it's supposed to look like, then it doesn't look like that, and you have to reboot and get it going again."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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