TB@COL: Gomes strikes out Pacheco to end the threat

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays optioned reliever Brandon Gomes to Triple-A Durham on Monday. Among the reasons he became the odd man out was the fact that he still had an option, which meant the Rays could send him down without having to risk losing him to another team.

"He knows he belongs here and that he can do this," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Sometimes the rules work in your favor. Sometimes the rules work against you. The rules are the rules, and I'm not going to go into great detail about that. But Brandon Gomes could and should be a Major League pitcher. His time is going to come."

Gomes allowed home runs in four of his last five appearances since May 7 against the Orioles. Prior to that stretch, he had a 2.87 ERA and 13 of his first 15 appearances were scoreless.

"The home run ball has hurt him a little bit," Maddon said. "… But his stuff is really good. And he's not afraid. He fits well within our culture. Again, it's just a part of the way this thing works sometimes. From outside looking at it, it's tough to understand. But he'll be back. And he'll be back for many years. He's a very good Major League relief pitcher."

Monday was an off-day for the Rays, so Maddon had to give Gomes the news via the telephone.

"I apologized to him for having to do it by telephone," Maddon said. "Sometimes you have to do these things when you're not in person, based on timing and circumstance. So I did. I spoke to him on the phone yesterday. He was very professional about it. I have a lot of respect for this young man. Like I said, he's a Major League pitcher and he will be back."

Cobb to make long-awaited return in finale vs. A's

Cobb working towards return with rehab start

ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Cobb will make his much-awaited return to the Rays' rotation when he starts on Thursday in the series finale against the A's at Tropicana Field.

Cobb's placement punctuated a reshuffling of the rotation that will see Chris Archer follow Cobb on Friday in the opening game against the Red Sox in St. Pete. David Price and Jake Odorizzi will start Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Cobb, who has been on the disabled list mending from a strained oblique since April 13, had a rehab start Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla., against the Clearwater Phillies. He tossed five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and no walks while striking out nine. Of the 64 pitches he threw, 46 were strikes. He threw a bullpen session on Monday and told reporters he "felt good coming out of it" on Tuesday.

Normally coming back from the disabled list would require three rehab starts. Cobb has made just one, but he says he feels ready.

"Yeah, I do," Cobb said. "Stuff-wise, it was all there. Fastball location was pretty much on par for where it's been leading up to the injuries. I think the only thing that we were worried about was the amount of pitches we could go. After getting through 65 in a game situation in the rehab start, then finishing up [throwing more pitching in the bullpen], I think we're going to be good to go. Not sure on the total number, but enough to be able to go out there and get a good effort going deep into the game."

Cobb has erased from his mind any thoughts of re-injuring himself.

"I've had to come back from things before in the past, and the worst thing you can do is think about stuff, because if you're not 100 percent focused on executing a pitch, worse things come from ... that," he said. "My mindset will just be getting guys out Thursday."

Hanigan, Rays trying to 'stay smart' with hamstring

TB@SEA: Hanigan catches Romero attempting to steal

ST. PETERSBURG -- Ryan Hanigan is pleased his right hamstring problem isn't worse.

The Rays catcher left Friday night's game prior to the bottom of the eighth inning due to the problem that occurred when he ran to first on a groundout to end the seventh. He did not start Tuesday night after missing the Rays' Saturday and Sunday games in Anaheim. Hanigan believes the tactic the Rays took was the right one.

"I think that was smart just giving me another day off," Hanigan said. "It was kind of a tough road trip. ... think I got a little dehydrated, maybe."

Hanigan went through baseball drills on the field prior to batting practice Tuesday and noted, "I feel pretty good," adding that his condition was a "big relief."

"At first I couldn't tell," Hanigan said. "It got pretty tight when I got back out there to catch [in Friday night's game]. It was hot out there in Anaheim, so I think that was a little combination of that. I wasn't sure how bad it was."

Hanigan continued to receive treatment and even showed up at Tropicana Field on Monday, an off-day, to work on the problem.

"I'm just glad it's not pulled and really just barking at me," Hanigan said. "So it's definitely manageable. I'll have to stay on my treatment. Stay smart about it. But all the baseball activities I did today, it didn't bother me. So as long as I stay smart about it, I think I'll be fine."