ST. PETERSBURG, FL – There was going to be a roster move before Monday’s game against the Yankees although no one quite knew who would be taking the hill in the first game of that four-game set. In consecutive games a Durham Bulls starter did not make it into the third inning leading to speculation that either righty Alex Cobb, who had been with the big club before, or lefty Alex Torres.
In the end the Rays summoned Cobb and a corresponding move will be made to make room on the 25-man roster.
Another new face will be getting a start and it comes today when Jose Lobaton will set up behind the plate to catch starter Jeff Niemann in the series finale against the Red Sox in a nationally televised game on ESPN at 8:05pm.
The 26-year old native of Acarigua, Portuguesa, Venezuela has played in just nine big league games with the San Diego Padres. He is on the roster because John Jaso was placed on the disabled list with a right oblique strain which could keep him from returning not in days but weeks. Third baseman Evan Longoria was out for a month with a left oblique problem.
Lobaton made his first appearance in a big league game since July 25, 2009 when he pinch-hit for Kelly Shoppach in Saturday’s game. The switch-hitter grounded out to short. While with Durham he was batting .293 with eight homers and 31 RBI in 54 games when he was called up and most impressive were his defensive numbers having thrown out 30.8% (12-of-39) of the runners who tried to steal against him. In his career he is averaging 28.9%.
Johnny Damon, DH
Ben Zobrist, RF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
BJ Upton, CF
Jose Lobaton, C
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Sam Fuld, LF
Reid Brignac, SS
SP: Jeff Niemann (4-4, 4.53)
NOTE: Matt Joyce was in original lineup but was scratched due to a bruised kneecap suffered in Satutrday’s game.
CASEY AT THE BAT: He was signed to a minor league contract and was sent to Durham after spring training but once he got the call from the big club, Casey Kotchman not only hit but he displaced incumbent Dan Johnson at first base. Now he is in the hunt for the American League batting championship and because he missed the early part of the season he has been playing catch-up since. But now he is just seven plate appearances short of qualifying for the batting race and his current .340 average would rank him second in the AL behind the Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez who started the day at .346.
NO JOHNNY COME LATELY: With a hit Saturday night, Johnny Damon upped his career total to 2,665 (67thon the all-time list). He is 12 hits shy of Luis Aparicio and more importantly, 335 away from 3,000.
RE-JOYCE: After pounding a ball off his kneecap and lying motionless on the ground for some time, Matt Joyce got up and crushed his 13thhome run of the season, a new career mark. He had 12 when he was with the Tigers.
UP NEXT: The pitching matchups for the Yankees series are as follows. All games start at 7:10pm with Monday’s game on ESPN and the remaining three on Sun Sports.
MON: Alex Cobb (2-0, 3.41) vs. AJ Burnett (8-7, 4.15)
TUE: Jeremy Hellickson (8-7, 3.21) vs. B. Colon (6-5, 3.47)
WED: David Price (9-7, 3.73) vs. Freddie Garcia (7-7, 3.43)
THU: James Shields ( 8-8, 2.60) vs. CC Sabathia (14-4, 2.64)