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Cobb feels no fear getting back on mound

ST. PETERSBURG -- Sunday was the first time Alex Cobb stood on the pitcher's mound at Tropicana Field since he suffered a concussion when he was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City's Eric Hosmer on June 15.

Fans were already filtering into the stadium while the entire starting rotation, manager Joe Maddon, executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and senior baseball advisor Don Zimmer lined up along the back of the batting cage to see Cobb throw to live hitters for the first time.

"I wanted it to be game-like, and I think we accomplished that feat," Cobb said "There's no shyness of the ball coming back to me. I'm happy with that."

Cobb threw about 40 pitches without a screen in front of him, tossing to outfielder Sam Fuld and clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland.

He showed no hesitation in delivering his first pitch to a batter since the one that resulted in him spending a night in the hospital.

"That happened on one pitch, and I've thrown millions of other pitches," Cobb said. "The subconscious remembers the good ones, not just the one bad one. It's not going to be in my thought process when I'm on the mound now or in the future. I'm fortunate in that."

Cobb was met with a cheer from the small crowd and chest bumps from his teammates as he crossed the chalk on his way back to the dugout.

"It's amazing how quickly you forget how to pitch, and once batters get in there, the intensity goes up a little bit," Cobb said. "Body parts start flying in different directions that you aren't used to, and it takes a little while to get settled down. Toward the end of my session right there, it got a lot better. I was happy with it."

No official date has been set for Cobb's return, but he plans to throw a similar session in Port Charlotte -- home of the Rays' Class A affiliate -- on Thursday. He had previously mentioned an early-August return as a realistic goal.

Cobb was 6-2 with a 3.01 ERA before the injury in his second full Major-League season.

Sam Strong is an associate reporter for
Read More: Tampa Bay Rays, Alex Cobb