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Rays considering 4-man staff during light Aug. schedule

Posted Jul 28, 2013 by Roger Mooney

Updated Jul 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

NEW YORK The Rays have not set their rotation past the mid-week two-game series with the Diamondbacks when they will pitch Roberto Hernandez and Jeremy Hellickson.

Thursday’s off day is the first of five off days during the first 22 days of August. And because of that, manager Joe Maddon said the Rays are considering a four-man rotation.

“We’ve discussed different things,” Maddon said before today’s game with the Yankees. “We haven’t put it all together. Of course we all have our different thoughts and our different schedules. We’ll announce that relatively soon. It’s possible to do something like that, yes, but we’re still trying to put it together.”

David Price, Matt Moore, Chris Archer and Hellickson would form the four-man rotation.

Hernandez would be the odd-man out, and he would go to the bullpen. He could join the rotation for a spot start during the end of nine-game stretch from Aug. 13 to Aug. 21. That is, unless Alex Cobb has rejoined that staff at that point.

If Cobb returns during the middle of this four-man rotation run and Hernandez is already in the bullpen, the question becomes: Which of the five sit?

“It would add a degree of difficulty for what we’re trying to do,” Maddon said. “But of course we want to get Cobber back. It’s a nice problem, we want to keep that problem, always want to have that problem. So we still have a little more time to figure that out, and we’re going to use that time.”

Cobb’s return would add a wrinkle to the plans, since it was assumed Hernandez would head to the bullpen at that time to make room in the rotation for Cobb. But his minor league rehab stint has been interrupted by a blister on his right index finger.

Cobb, out since June 15 with a concussion, was scheduled to throw his second rehab start tonight for Class A Charlotte. He threw only two pitches in his first start on July 23 and left the game with the blister. His next start, which essentially will be his first, has yet to be scheduled.

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